Apps making life a little easier
Tue, 27 February 2018
Think of a specific topic or an area of your life you would like to manage better, and it is likely there is an app to help.
One area of app development is in ways to help people who are visually impaired or who are blind to live more independent lives.
Be My Eyes
With the promise of “bringing sight to blind and low vision people”, Be My Eyes is a free app that connects blind and visually impaired people with sighted volunteers and company representatives for visual assistance through a live video call.
The site suggests there are over 876,000 volunteers to help the roughly 60,000 blind and low vision people who have signed up with the app.
To use the app, you log on and the main screen displays a button that reads ‘connect to first available volunteer’ and if you need visual assistance, you tap this button.
Be My Eyes will call a sighted volunteer (who speaks your language) and establish a video connection between you – using your phone’s camera (located at the top right corner of the non-screen side of your phone) and the microphones of both participants.
The sighted volunteer will then explain the things that you point your camera at, so the blind or vision-impaired user gets a complete understanding of their surroundings. Helpers can assist with challenges from knowing the expiry date on a carton of milk to getting help crossing the street.
Getting around on public transport can be a pain for anyone, but if you have low vision or if you are blind then it enters a whole other level of complexity.
Enter Moovit, the world’s largest public transport app. The app added features in 2016 to make it easier for visually impaired users to take transit using VoiceOver (iOS) and TalkBack (Android) integration.
The app uses data from public transportation systems and live user updates to help people plan for the most suitable routes. “In the latest version of the app, we’ve made every screen accessible to blind riders with VoiceOver and TalkBack enabled on their iOS and Android devices. With the new accessible integration, blind users simply have to hold their finger on their phone screen to hear which button or icon is beneath it, helping them to navigate more seamlessly through the app, and allowing them to plan trips on public transit with ease,” Moovit said on its website.
The features for visually impaired people came after one of the developers noted that the ability to plan a trip ahead of time is crucial for people with limited eyesight.
Moovit said that around the world there are nearly 40 million people living with blindness, many of whom depend on public transport to get around.