Almost one in 30 U.S. adults over 40 suffer from some degree of vision loss. And, in many cases, vision impairment may lead to depression, social isolation, falls, or medication errors. The explosion of support applications for iPhone and smart phone users has revolutionized tools and tasks for vision impaired users.
Many vision-related tools such as magnifying lenses, color identification readers and dictation systems have been available for a number of years. However, the iPhone and smart phone applications can provide the same support for hundreds and thousands of dollars less. Most vision-support applications are free or under $5.00 and $10.00 per application.
A quick glance of some of the smart phone application reviews turns up cost-effective applications that can:
1. Assist vision impaired seniors with navigating city streets, as well as bus and train stops.
2. Identify paper currency by using the camera.
3. Identify colors and verbally announce the color names.
4. Hail a tax, track taxi expenses and assist with payment via credit card.
5. Show the sighted world what you see via simulation exercises.
6. Keep track of multiple medication reminders while issuing alerts when it’s time to refill.
7. Read aloud from email, Twitter feed, weather, stock prices, as well as RSS and Facebook feeds.
8. Alert the user to visitors by issuing a gentle tone or a more severe alarm when motion is detected. The program can snap a photo as it detects motion, as well.
9. Take a photo of printed text and read the message aloud. This is useful for reading menus, newspapers and other printed materials.
The growth in smart phone applications has opened a whole new world to seniors and others suffering from vision loss and the potential continues to grow with each new development. For more information about the use of electronic devices for vision support, check out Houston Lighthouse for the Blind.