Being able to easily participate in a conversation when you are hard of hearing or mute, find your way when you are visually impaired: so many situations in which technology can now help to facilitate the daily lives of people with disabilities. And to achieve this, the best asset today remains the smartphone and its many applications designed to improve everyone’s life.
By its multiple possibilities, the smartphone has become the ally of all situations. Taking calls, photos, browsing the Internet, sending emails, watching videos, listening to music… gestures made as easy as possible by the simplicity of the device. But this use is unfortunately not always so easy for everyone.
Fortunately, there are now many settings to improve uses for people with various disabilities. Improved font sizes, brightness, voice or vibration assistance settings … smartphones have adapted their operations to all their users. Apple has shown that it has put accessibility at the heart of its uses by announcing many improvements in its upcoming iOS 14.
But for the smartphone to be an everyday ally for people who are visually impaired, hard of hearing or with motor problems, the application ecosystem also depends on its ingenuity and multiple applications have emerged for several years to support users long forgotten.
To read what we can’t hear
Appli made in France, Rogervoice wants to be the ally of the deaf and hard of hearing on the telephone. It allows them to benefit fully and free of charge from the exchange with their interlocutor by transcribing the call like an SMS exchange. At the other end of the line, the correspondent will hear the words entered. It is also possible to use a sign language interpreter and a completed spoken language. And this in more than 80 languages. It is also possible to caption live video calls on your smartphone or tablet (equipped with a 3G / 4G SIM card) thanks to the voice recognition embedded in Rogervoice.
The service is free between people who have the application. You must have a paid subscription to call or receive transcribed or sign language calls from other people. Note that the subscription can be reimbursed by certain health and professional integration organizations.
Operators such as Bouygues Telecom, Orange and SFR, but also La Poste Mobile and Euro-Information Telecom offer credits for one hour of communication with an interpreter, renewable automatically each month. All you need to do is register for free to benefit from it Monday to Friday, 8:30 am to 7 pm.
It’s the perfect tool for captioning any conversation. For deaf and hard of hearing people, the Ava app uses voice recognition to allow everyone to easily understand their interlocutor, participate in videoconferences or group discussions. For this, Ava transcribes live on the smartphone screen. It is also possible to connect several interlocutors to a discussion, by simply sending them a link. Via the microphone, the app will identify the smartphone of each speaker and assign it a color code to distinguish them in the flow of discussion, even if their words overlap when spoken.
Ava also works the other way around and can speak what you write orally. Your conversations are always saved.
Ava offers a free offer with 5 hours per month of live captioning on your smartphone, multi-device conversations. A subscription from 15 euros per month allows you to obtain translations in 16 languages and unlimited subtitling. A pro version (99 euros / month) offers even more possibilities including live translation and correction.
Price: free – Paid options from 15 euros per month
To help see
This app was designed by a visually impaired Microsoft employee who wanted to find the app that suited his needs. Seeing AI relies on your smartphone camera for your vision. It is he who will identify your environment, describe an object or a person (that you can name so that it is permanently recognized as a relative by the AI), read the barcodes of a product for you. give information, read a text (up to 5 recognized languages) and even decipher scriptures. The app also communicates information orally to you from a board or a photo, down to the smallest detail (the name of the store behind a person photographed, for example).
Thanks to Apple’s VoiceOver technology, all of the functions on the screen are given orally. You can share the photo or ask Seeing AI to describe what is in front of you with one click, but also to read any messages you may receive accompanied by a photo.
Another initiative signed by Microsoft. This free application is intended for the blind and visually impaired. Soundscape allows you to better locate yourself in space and evolve in your environment in a natural and intuitive way. All this without cutting off his activity or his conversation. For this, the navigation app is based on an unprecedented 3D audio sound technology.
The app will provide navigation information in a helmet, but on the orientation side. If you have to turn right, the information will come to your right ear. You are also warned of the proximity of a crossroads or a pedestrian crossing. This should allow the user to mentalize his environment to progress smoothly to his destination. Soundscape also allows you to know your precise location with all the information around (nearby points of interest, gardens, transport, shops, etc.), with the possibility of marking certain places (usual bus stop, favorite restaurant, home of a relative…). These personalized places are memorized by the app and signaled, whether you are on foot or by car.
You can also find out which points of interest are in front of you – and at what distance – by pointing the phone in the direction (“Ahead of me” function).
To facilitate motor skills
This application created by Google is intended for people with cognitive impairments who have trouble performing certain tasks on their smartphone. Action Blocks allows you to create action shortcuts that will take place on the home screen in the form of a card. It can be a shortcut to the number of the doctor or a relative, a link to a specific feature in the system settings. A click on the block created and an action is triggered or even several (turn off the house if you have connected bulbs, put the thermostat on 20 degrees.
To give the floor back
Another French initiative, Helpicto relies on the picture to replace words. It is mainly intended for people with autism. Artificial intelligence helps to choose the right pictograms to support people with language disorders in their exchanges with their loved ones. A library of several thousand images makes it possible to cover all aspects of daily life, the actions that can be taken, the requests.
The person who speaks selects the pictograms to exchange with his interlocutor suffering from various disorders (dysphasia, deafness, language disorders…). The latter can then respond more simply by pressing the screen of the smartphone or tablet. It is even possible to personalize certain pictograms by taking pictures of relatives, places or objects. The AI takes care of correctly constructing the meaning of the sentences.
Price: 6 euros per month or 66 euros per year (one month free trial)
It is arguably the most complete app for those who cannot use speech properly. Proloquo2Go is expensive (280 euros), but it is a phenomenal means of expression for many people who could not communicate. The app designed by AssistiveWare is based on symbols that represent a person, an action, an object. By organizing them, the user forms sentences and makes himself understood. For ease of use, each pictorial word is always in the same place, but it is possible to classify them by theme or by personalized folder.
Proloquo2Go is very intuitive in its operation and customizable. It is possible to add personal photos, but also to choose between 25,000 pictograms. It is suitable for all levels and all types of disabilities. Its operation also allows exchanges between two people speaking different languages. The app includes more than 100 free synthetic voices, including children’s voices. It even uses accents in several languages and regional vocabularies.
Price: 280 euros