According to Stuart Ball this free Seeing AI iPhone or iPad app has multiple benefits for those with visual impairments or who are blind. It has been developed by Microsoft so has the ‘swiss army knife approach’ according to AccessWorld to telling you about the world around you. It searches out light sources, identifies colours and money and describes them using text to speech. It will recognise a person is approaching and offer a description. Barcodes can be read and optical character recognition is used for documents etc. Clear handwriting can be deciphered and scenes described.
The free overTHERE iPhone app has been called a ‘game changer’ by Stuart Ball as it allows places to be located via their signs by holding the phone in a horizontal manner. You can then simply turn around on the spot and listen as businesses/shops are brought to your attention. It also tells you how far away they are from where you are standing. According to the app developer it is an “accessibility app that helps blind individuals explore and interact with the surrounding environment by using virtual audible signs.”
“When the phone is held vertically you can use the screen or VoiceOver to review the list of signs around you. By selecting a sign from the list you can access details about a location such as its address, phone number, or web site.”
I have found that Claro ScanPen works well with typed text and has the advantage of real time scanned conversions without an internet connection. You can take a photo of the text using your smartphone camera and the app will scan the content and read it aloud using optical character recognition (OCR). Having had the text read out you can copy and paste sections into another app such as Notes.
It works both on an iOS or Android phones and tablets and is available from the Apple app store and Google Play. The Android version is free and updates have fixed some of the glitches, the iOS version costs £6.99 outright at the time of writing. This version has a restricted number of voices for different languages, whereas the premium version with an annual payment of £9.99 provides unlimited access to many different languages and option to have 10 free scans before paying as well as a 14 day trial.
Dr Abi James – Research Fellow, University of Southampton.
In MS Office programs you can get instant access to text to speech via the ‘speak’ button by using the Quick Action toolbar in Word and other Office programs. Go to File > Options > Quick Access Toolbar > Choose All Commands from the drop down menu > scroll down to Speak > add
“Immersive Reading Tools which were originally available in OneNote (and required a download) are now available in Office 365 – Word Online and OneNote as standard – no installation required. It’s also cross platform so will work on a Mac with Safari browser.
To access the Learning Tools in Word Online or OneNote Online, log into your account, open Word or OneNote, go to the View menu and click Immersive Reader.
• Read Aloud—Reads text aloud with simultaneous highlighting – although no option (that I can see) to change the voice. Still, the voice is ‘okayish’.• Spacing—a range of spacing options to help declutter pages. • Syllables—Shows the breaks between syllables to enhance word recognition and decoding.• Parts of Speech —Supports writing instruction and grammar comprehension by identifying verbs, nouns and adjectives.
Immersive Reader also has options to change the page colour, font size, style etc. ”
This is an app that works on the iPhone or Android and could be a life saver or just a better reminder than the alarms you set up. If you have a hearing impairment or need an alert this app will turn your smart phone into a device that provides visual signals, vibration and/or flashing light when well known sounds are heard via the microphone or an alarm, door bell or other sounds around the house and local surroundings. It can help when on field trips or in a lab / lecture theatre etc when the fire alarm goes off.
According to Braci Smartear it is a ‘sound recognition platform’ with a “Wide range of detectable sounds – The application can pick up and notify you to many different types of sounds which revolve around your safety, security and comfort. These sounds can be found as:
a- Pre-installed within the application (Smoke alarms, and Carbon monoxide alarms)
b- Customizable to your specific sounds ( Doorbells, alarms, intercoms, and much more)
c- Compatible alert products such as Bellman and Geemarc products.”