My choice of the best apps for getting out and about

Being blind himself, Robin has a first-hand appreciation of the importance of good mobile design and its impact on both accessibility and usability for everyone. Here are some of his top ‘out and about’ app recommendations.

Talking Goggles

Talking GogglesFirst place in Robin’s list is mainstream app Talking Goggles. This clever app can recognise images and speaks out what it’s found in seconds. Just point the camera on your smartphone at something you want to identify, say a shop front, a restaurant menu or an item on a supermarket shelf and the information found will be at your fingertips. And it doesn’t matter if you have the can of beans (or whatever it is) upside down or the wrong way round, it will still work in real-time.

BlindSquare

BlindSquareBlindSquare is an accessible GPS-app that makes use of Foursquare's two billion check-ins worldwide to help blind or visually impaired people find locations on foot or while using public transport. It quickly gathers information about the surrounding environment, then voices it out using speech synthesis. For instance, if you’re taking the bus, it will tell you not only your location but the next bus stop too.

Waze

WazeWaze is one of the simplest and best turn-by-turn satnav apps for both iOS and Android and has a strong social component – so other Waze users crawling in traffic will automatically route around a problem. It's both free and very accessible.

Be My Eyes

Be My EyesBe My Eyes is a global app that blends technology with acts of human kindness. The app connects blind people with volunteer helpers from around the world via live video chat. The blind person asks for help, say with knowing the expiry date on milk or navigating new surroundings and an available volunteer steps in to assist.

Dragon Dictation

Dragon DictationDragon Dictation is a popular voice-controlled mainstream app that can be very helpful for people with dyslexia. Its easy-to-use voice recognition application allows you to easily speak and instantly see your text or email messages, and update your social networking status. You can also send notes and reminders to yourself, all using your voice while on the go or at home.

SignVideo

SignVideoHearing impaired people and signers have long been using Apple’s FaceTime to communicate, however there are dedicated signing services available such as SignVideo. All you need is a high-speed broadband connection or a 3G/4G data plan on your mobile device, fire up the app, and you’ll be connected to a professional interpreter who’ll relay the conversation between English and British Sign Language (BSL). It’s a bit like Be My Eyes, but with a signer at the other end.

Proloquo2Go

Proloquo2GoThis is a full-featured communication solution for people who have difficulty speaking. Although this is quite pricey as mobile apps go, it’s a snip when compared to the same software built into a specialist device (costing around £6k). It offers natural sounding text to speech voices, high resolution library of more than 14,000 symbols and advanced word prediction.

Google Translate

Google TranslateFinally, if you are planning on getting away this winter, you may like some help with connecting across language barriers. Google Translate is a fantastic mobile translation tool that can help you read or communicate in up to 90 languages. The app goes beyond a simple phrase book with an SMS translator, text-recognition features and even audio recordings of translated words and sentences. It's a great travel tool for when you venture somewhere you don't speak the language, especially now that more features are available offline.

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