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Apps for Blind People That Help Me

Reading Time: 8 minutes
Blind main with a stick listening to phone

Losing vision is an extremely stressful and life-altering thing however technology (particularly apps for blind people) plays a large role in being able to help accommodate blindness with everything from work to education, to home life.

If you are considering a smartphone, I would personally go for an iPhone. So many blind people use it, and you can still connect it to Home pod systems like Alexa.

Apps for Blind People: The Apps That Help Me Every Day

Siri for Blind People

iPhones have voice control meaning that until you’re ready to learn how to navigate through everything, anything you want to do can be done with Siri.

You will need to set this up by going to settings > Siri and Search.

Things you can ask Siri to do:

  • What the weather is like.
  • What’s my schedule for today?
  • Send a text.
  • Read texts.
  • Call anyone in your contacts list.
  • Read my notifications.
  • Open apps.
  • Tell me my exact location; when I’m out and about.

Dictation, Magnification and Enlarged Text

If you live with residual vision dictation, magnification and enlarged text may be useful for you.

Dictation settings

Settings > General > Dictation

Magnification settings

Settings > General > Accessibility > Zoom

Enlarge font settings

Settings > General > Accessibility >  Display & Text Size

Using wallet and Apple Pay

Apple Wallet is an app on iPhone and Apple Watch that securely and conveniently organises your credit and debit cards, boarding passes, tickets, rewards cards and more.

Settings> Wallet & Apple Pay.

It’s easy to use different cards and passes in Apple Wallet. Some passes can automatically appear based on time and location, like a boarding pass when you arrive at the airport.

If you have a credit, debit, pre-paid, store or rewards card in Wallet that works with Apple Pay, just double-click the Home button to open Wallet and use your card from the reader. On iPhone X or later, double-click the side button.

What’s the Difference Between Wallet and Apple Pay?

Apple Pay is the safe way to pay and make secure purchases in shops, in apps and on the web. Apple Wallet is the place where you store your credit or debit cards so you can use them with Apple Pay.

People Detection For The Visually Impaired

If you have an iPhone 12 Pro or iPhone 13 Pro you can use the inbuilt camera for people detection. It will let you know if you are in proximity to another person and how close they are to you.

Settings > General > Accessibility > Accessibility Shortcut Settings > turn on magnifier to activate.

This is also a great way of creating a shortcut if you want to turn specific accessibility settings on or off: personally, I use VoiceOver and magnifier as my shortcuts.

If you want an extensive guide on how to use VoiceOver as a blind person I’ve written a blog post just for you.

Apps for Visual Impairment

Depending on the level of vision loss you all your loved ones have been through, and the support you have received from local organisations and charities, here or a list of apps that I, a totally blind person use, and would highly recommend.

Home

Be My Eyes

Be My Eyes is a multi-lingual support community connecting blind people to sighted volunteers via your phone. They’re available globally day or night, with volunteers answering calls in more than 185 languages.

Ideas of tasks you could use be my eyes for include:

  • Reading home appliances
  • Reading product labels
  • Matching outfits and identifying clothes
  • Help in the kitchen
  • Reading digital displays or computer screens
  • Navigating TV or game menus
  • Operating vending machines or kiosks
  • Sorting music collections or
  • Picking jewellery

You can even use be my eyes for specialist help.

Seeing AI

Seeing AI narrates the world around you.

The app can do lots of tasks like:

  • Read short text as soon as it appears in front of the camera.
  • Reads documents.
  • Reads products by Scanning barcodes using audio beeps to guide you.
  • Detects people and scenes.
  • Reads currency.
  • Detects colour.
  • Reads handwriting.
  • Detects light – The app detects a light source and will make an auditory signal.

I have done a couple of videos on TikTok showing the ways I use it but if you want me to do individual videos of each task; I am more than happy to do so.

Envision (Subscription-based app)

An OCR app that speaks out the visual world, helping blind and visually impaired users to lead more independent lives.

Its key feature that I enjoy is its object detection. If you want to find out how I locate Ida you can find it in my blind girl adventures playlist on YouTube.

AIRA (subscription service)

Aira is a paid service that connects you to fully trained agents in supporting blind people with visual tasks, I’ve used it to get around new places when I’m traveling, find landmarks or shops and even help me read millions of Christmas cards to help me pick the right ones!

You do have to have a good Internet connection and be aware that it can drain your battery if you are using it for an extended period of time.

It started off in America a few years ago and is now a worldwide service, there are even airports and hospitals you can use the service for free. If you would like to try the service I do have a referral code.

Travel

Moovit

This is a live public transport Journey planner app that can be used for buses, trains, Metro, Uber and other modes of public transport worldwide.

I use it for buses: it gives you walking times, directions, the name of the bus, if it’s accessible to wheelchair users/pushchairs, clicking on a journey gives you every bus stop name, allows you to set alerts to tell you when your bus is arriving, and when to get off. It’s great for learning new roots especially if you don’t have talking buses in your area.

Find my friends (iPhone app)

When you share your location, your friends can start following your location immediately and easily share their locations back to you so that you’re both in the loop. If at any time you don’t want to be followed, you can hide your location with a single switch.

Find My Friends lets you set up location-based alerts that can notify you automatically when a friend arrives at the airport, a child leaves school, or a family member arrives home safely. You can also set up alerts to notify friends about changes in your location.

When you use Find My Friends, your location can be shared from any of your iOS devices, allowing you to choose the device you have with you most often.

Passenger Assistance

Passenger Assistance is a new travel app for disabled people. It simplifies the process of booking assisted train travel. With everything in one place, I’m so glad that passenger assistance has finally caught up to the 21st-century!

Just because we are disabled doesn’t mean we should meticulously plan a journey 48 hours in advance.
We work, we like to be spontaneous and we deserve accessibility assistance.

TFL GO

Travel confidently around London with maps and live travel updates on our official TfL app. Check live arrival times for Tube, London Overground, DLR, TfL Rail and Thameslink trains as well as Trams and Emirates Air Line. Make step-free journeys and lookup station facilities. See on the map when stations and lifts are closed. Walking or cycling? Our reliable journey planner will map a safe route.

The app is built around our iconic Tube map. To get started:

  • Touch the map or search to plan your journey
  • See the status of all lines
  • Check how busy each London Underground station is right now
  • Re-route as you travel – we’ll suggest alternatives
  • Switch to the step-free map for accessible journeys
  • Find out when your next train, bus or tram is due
  • Look up which platform your train will arrive on
  • See when the stations you want to travel through are quieter
  • Check out station information and facilities such as toilets

SoundScape

Microsoft Soundscape will place audio cues and labels, in 3D space so that they sound like they are coming from the direction of the points of interest.

As you walk, Soundscape will automatically call out the key points of interest, roads and intersections that you pass. These can be adjusted and turned on and off. An audio beacon can be placed on a point of interest, and you will hear it as you move around. You can place an audio beacon on a point of interest that you would like to track such as your destination, a point to return to or a landmark you are familiar with.

Microsoft soundscape is best used with headphones. This way when you are out and about, not only are you hands-free but the point of information will come from the direction it is facing. For example, if a bus stop is at your 3 o’clock the sound will come through your right-hand headphones. I personally use Apple AirPods because (if you haven’t guessed already I’m a massive Apple fan) but my friend uses bone-conducting headphones which sit over your ears and don’t go in them, giving you the ability to hear what’s going on around you perfectly whilst receiving any information from the Soundscape app.

Cash Locator

Cash Locator is an easy way for you to access cash on the move. With over 70,000 cash machines connected effectively every ATM in the UK. You can also get walking or driving directions to your nearest ATM.

You can also search for ATMs and Post Offices near a particular location by setting advanced search filters. This allows you to set filters for your particular needs, including £5 note dispensing ATMs, wheelchair accessible cash machines and those with audio assistance for blind people.

Entertainment

SelfieX

The app lets you take selfies with the back camera.

The problem is, when you turn the screen away or have no working eyes like me, you can’t see if your face is framed the way you want it. The app voices directions to guide your framing: right, left, up or down.
Her voice is so chirpy she even tells you to say cheese!

I have done a TikTok video demonstrating the app, feel free to go and check it out!

Audible (Subscription service)

Best-selling audiobooks and poadcasts

There’s nothing quite like a professional performance in your ears. Audible gave me back my love of reading after I went blind. Up until mid to thousands if you were visually impaired and wanted to read the newest book, we had to wait months, even sometimes up to a year before the book became available in audio formats.

The introduction of audible allows blind and visually impaired people to read a book on the day or just days after the release date.

It really is a game-changer! If you haven’t already got audible, you can sign up using my affiliate link and grab yourself a free book!

Easy Reader

Dolphin EasyReader is a free reading app that enables people who are blind, visually impaired (VI) or dyslexic to read text and audiobooks in ways that suit their vision and preferred reading style.

Convenient access to your favourite accessible book libraries and talking newspaper stands, in one place. Designed for accessibility, EasyReader enables blind and partially sighted readers to read with magnified text, with audio, or a combination of both – where each word is highlighted on screen as it’s read aloud. It also links to braille displays for braille readers.

TV

Amazon Alexa

Use the Amazon Alexa app to manage Alexa-enabled devices, control music playback, view shopping lists on the go, keep track of upcoming reminders, check on active timers and much more.

I use Alexa for:

  • What time it is
  • What the weather is like
  • What my schedule is for a specific date (linked to my iPhone calendar)
  • Setting timers
  • Today’s news
  • Playing the radio
  • Playing my audiobooks (linked to my audible account on Amazon)

Netflix (subscription service)

Netflix has award-winning series, films, documentaries and stand-up specials. And with the mobile app, you get Netflix while you travel, commute or just take a break.

If you have a smart TV you can also connect your iPhone and screen mirror anything you are watching onto the larger screen.

Sky Go

Stream and download great TV, films and live sport with the Sky Go app.

  • Search the TV Guide.
  • Change the channels via the app.
  • Record and download what you want to watch on or offline.
  • See what’s in your planner.
  • Parental guidance to keep the kids safe.
  • Sky go extra to watch your recordings and downloads on the go.

Virgin Tv GO

Let’s you watch live TV and On Demand TV programmes, all from your mobile or tablet.

  • See what’s on using the live television guide
  • Watch up to 100 live TV channels including BT Sport, Fox, Comedy Central and Sky 1, depending on your package
  • Watch a large range of On Demand TV, at home or on the go
  • Download shows for offline viewing
  • Watch on up to two compatible devices, or four devices with Full House TV
  • Keep a list of all your favourite shows in one place to watch later
  • Personalise your TV guide so your favourites are at the top
  • Help keep the kids safe with parental controls

Those are just a few of my favourite apps for blind people. What do you use?

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