From picture-based communication systems to finding accessible locations, you can make life a little easier with these assistive apps for disabled people.
NOTE: Thanks to our readers, we updated this article with even more great apps for people with disabilities. Many of them are free! If you know about an app that can assist disabled people, be sure to let us know!
1. Voice4u AAC
This Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) app provides a picture-based communication system for people with speech challenges. It comes pre-loaded with more than 180 icons; and you can make your own icons to expand the built-in library, record your own voice and even print matching picture cards.
Ideal for non-verbal people, people in the autism spectrum, stroke victims and anyone who struggles with communication; and with its $60 price point, Voice4u AAC is much more affordable than expensive standalone units.
It’s worth noting that the same company also makes Voice4u TTS (Text-to-Speech), which reads what you type in your choice of natural-sounding voices. The app can even read words from a photograph with ORC technology. Currently, Voice4u TTS is only available for iOS devices and costs $40.
This AAC app was created to be a daily communication tool for people with speech challenges. Users communicate by tapping symbols from the apps 10,000+-word library – but such an extensive vocabulary isn’t meant to be overwhelming. In fact, Proloquo2Go was developed based on research that suggests 200 to 400 words make up 80 percent of our core vocabulary. The app features customizable vocabulary levels so it’s appropriate for a range of fine motor and visual skills, and even has a progressive language feature that can help people extend their vocabularies.
Proloquo2Go has more than 100 free natural-sounding text-to-speech voices and 25,000 built-in symbols, and you can add your own photos. At $250, it’s a bit expensive for an app; but it’s still more affordable than standalone devices.
Currently available for iOS devices (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch and Apple Watch).
3. Be My Eyes
This app connects blind and low-vision people with sighted volunteers through live video calls. The sighted volunteers assist with guided problem-solving. For example, it can be used to help find lost or dropped items, describing pictures, reading labels, shopping at stores, and navigating new places.
This app helps disabled drivers find and get assistance refueling their vehicles. Refueling can be challenging for people who use wheelchairs and other disabled drivers, but FuelService aims to solve that challenge by showing you which gas stations have attendants who can help.
Use the app to search for and choose a gas station from a list or map. The app will then contact the gas station to see if they can assist you. Once you arrive, the app notifies the attendant you have arrived and shows you how many minutes it will be before they come out to help. It even includes a ratings system to help you choose gas stations that have provided good assistance to others.
Powered by the OpenSubtitles database, this app lets you view subtitles on your iOS device while watching TV or at the movies – which makes it one of the most entertaining apps for disabled people. The app supports more than 20 languages and is synchronized with whatever is on your screen – simply search for the program or movie you’re watching, then press play to start.
Since most TVs, DVDS, Blu-Rays and streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video offer built-in subtitle functionality, this app might be best used in the movie theater – provided you can use it without disturbing other moviegoers.
Subtitles Viewer costs $9.99 and is available for iOS devices only.
6. Access Now
Access Now is a community-driven app that pinpoints accessible locations on an interactive map. You can look up places like restaurants, museums and attractions and view their accessibility ratings: accessible, partially accessible, patio access only and not accessible. You can also rate locations and even add your own to help others in the community.
There are many conditions—such as Down’s syndrome, Angelman syndrome, cerebral palsy, and others—that make an individual’s speech difficult to understand. Operating with the motto “Every voice should be heard,” CoughDrop uses “powerful software called Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) can fill the gaps and make every voice heard,” the creators say on the app’s Web site.
CoughDrop is unique in that it is an open-source app. While many AAC apps use proprietary technology—meaning users don’t know how secure they are—CoughDrop assures users they always have control over and access to their data. The company says the app was designed with an “open mindset” to help people with disabilities.
Speak for Yourself (SfY) was designed by speech pathologists for people with disabilities. Like CoughDrop, Speak for Yourself is an Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) app that allows people who cannot communicate verbally to use their iPad or tablet as a communication device.
9. Snap + Core
Snap + Core is another AAC app that “helps users unlock speech functionality” in conjunction with a Tobii Dynavox device. This app has high ratings on the Apple App store (4.1 out of 5), and teachers say it’s great for in-classroom use.
ModMath helps kids with disabilities like dyslexia and autism to learn math via an iPad—and it’s free! The app was developed by parents of children with dyslexia and other learning disabilities. ModMath provides virtual graph paper and is pencil-free, which is ideal for people who struggle to read their own handwriting.
11. Rufus Robot
Rufus the Robot was developed by clinical psychologist Dr Holly Gastgeb, who works with children who have autism spectrum disorder. This kid-friendly app allows children with different abilities and challenges to work on learning colors and numbers—and even helps them with interpersonal challenges, such as processing emotions.
This app is designed specifically for children with autism spectrum disorder. Autism Core Skills “supports your child by creating lessons that align social, communication, and academic skills,” according to the developers. The app offers different levels of academic learning, from sorting shapes and objects to learning basic spelling words.
This free mobile app is designed for people in wheelchairs who need to find accessible restrooms and parking. WheelMate allows users to rate restrooms and parking areas for cleanliness, convenience, and accessibility—so you’ll know which public amenities are a safe bet, and which ones to skip altogether.
NotNav is a free GPS app for the visually impaired. NotNav goes a step beyond traditional GPS systems by announcing your direction, the nearest street address, and nearby cross streets. This GPS app is special in that is was designed “by the blind, for the blind” and assists users with walking, not driving. And it’s free!
15. Assistive Touch
AssistiveTouch is already built into every iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch. This feature helps people with physical disabilities perform functions on their devices, like pinching, swiping, and using Siri. To Turn on Assistive Touch on your iPhone, go to Settings > General > Accessibility > AssistiveTouch, then turn on AssistiveTouch. Or just tell Siri “Turn on AssistiveTouch!”
Spoken uses predictive technology to simplify communication for people with aphasia and other speech and language disorders. Instead of limiting users to simple phrases and icons, the app predicts the next words you’re likely to use so you can quickly build complete sentences.
Have you used any apps for disabled people? We’d love to hear about it! Please, contact us and share your experience.