8 Apps To Recommend For Visually Impaired Patients

By: Stefania Paniccia
IAUPR Class of 2013 

The American Optometric Association defines visual impairment (or low vision) as a functional limitation of the eye(s) or visual system and can present as reduced visual acuity or contrast sensitivity, visual field loss, photophobia, diplopia, visual distortion, perceptual difficulties, or any combination of the aforementioned dysfunctions.

According to The Arlene R. Gordon Research Institute at Lighthouse International and Prevent Blindness America, it is estimated that 17% of persons age 45 and older report some form of vision impairment, representing 16.5 million persons.  It is also noted that approximately 7.3 million or 21% of persons age 65 and over report some type of vision impairment.  As baby boomers age, this number is projected to reach 11.3 million in the United States of America by the year 2020.  According to WHO, over 285 million people in the world are visually impaired.  The main causes of blindness and visual impairment are cataract, glaucoma, ARMD, and diabetic retinopathy. As OD’s and future OD’s it is understandable that these statistics seem daunting and insurmountable.  Besides patient education, frequent examinations, preventative measures, and low vision devices, how else can we improve the quality of life for our patients?

With the advent of “smart” phones and devices, resources have become easier to access, improving quality of life for many low vision patients.  “There’s an app for that!” is a valid statement yet again and has now extended into the realm of low vision.


Ariadne GPS (Cost $ 4.99)

Available in 11 languages and with a user-friendly interface, talking maps will inform you of your location simply by the touch of a finger.  Unsure of your location?  Just ask the app!  Crossing the street is signaled by vibration and has a feature for annotating favorite locations.  It is also equipped for cars, buses, and trains.  Compatible with iPad® and iPhone®.

LookTel Money Reader (Cost: $9.99)

Instantly recognizes currency and speaks the denomination, allowing those with visual impairments or blindness to easily identify and quantify bills.  Several currencies are supported by this app including the U.S. Dollar, Euro, British Pound, Canadian Dollar, and Australian Dollar.  It also provides VoiceOver support for 16 languages. Compatible with iPad® and iPhone®.

Color ID Free (Cost: FREE)

Uses the camera on your iPad®, iPhone® or iPod touch® to speak the names of colors in real time and helps you to discoverthe names of the colors around you.  It can be useful for partially colorblind individuals and low vision patients as well.

Voice Brief (Cost: $2.99)

Exceptionally useful for the visually impaired, this app reads your email, weather, stock prices, calendar and more!  As a voice assistant, its main goal is to increase productivity and efficiency and all you have to do is listen!  Compatible with iPad®, iPhone® or iPod touch®.


List Recorder (Cost: $0.99)

Here is a user-friendly, powerful audio recorder that let’s you quickly make note of information as audio, text, or both.  It hasbeen designed to integrate with VoiceOver and interfaces well with Braille displays.  It intelligently organizes your recordings for easier access later.  The version available is a “lite” one, and is limited.  An in-app purchase of the full version is available for $7.99.  Compatible with iPad®, iPhone® or iPod touch®.


VizWiz (Cost: FREE)

Allows visually impaired users to recruit remote sighted “web workers” (human volunteers) to help them with visual problems in nearly real-time.  Users simply take a picture with their device, speak a question, and then receive multiple spoken answers. Day or night, this app is remarkably accurate.  Compatible with iPad®, iPhone® or iPod touch®.

HeyTell (Cost: FREE)

A super hybrid of old and new technology!  HeyTell is a crossbreed of a walkie-talkie and text messaging that instantly allows you to talk to friends and family free of charge.  Included are privacy settings and the ability to let a contact know your exact location.  A helpful app for the visually impaired, allowing them to connect quickly and easily while in transit.  Compatible with iPad®, iPhone® or iPod touch®.

Alarmed ~ Reminders, Timers, Alarm Clock (Cost: FREE)

Organization is crucial, especially for visually impaired individuals.  This fully functional VoiceOver app is customizable and includes wake-up alarms, sleep timers, countdown timers, and even a “Nag-Me” feature with auto-repeating of reminders.  Users can fall asleep and wake up to the music of their choosing and the in-app purchase of extras for $1.99 unlocks some other fantastic features.  Compatible with iPad®, iPhone® or iPod touch®.

NOTE: VoiceOver is assistive technology developed by Apple Inc.™ and is included in their new devices.  It is an advanced technology that makes it possible for those who are blind or have low vision to control their devices through speech.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Apple Inc.™ or its affiliates.  Furthermore, the author of this article is not monetarily compensated by Apple Inc.™, its affiliates, or through the promotion of the products listed herein.  The author has no financial interests or investments in the listed applications, and has not participated in the creation of the applications.  All rights belong to the authors and Apple Inc.™.  Readers of this article should not rely solely on the listed applications in diagnosing or treating a condition.  The author of this article is basing their recommendation on their personal experience, and does not hold themselves to be an expert in the use or appropriateness of each item.

Article adapted from http://appadvice.com/applists/show/apps-for-the-visually-impaired

By: Stefania Paniccia
IAUPR Class of 2013

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