Webinar: Mobile Apps Which Assist People with Visual Limitations



audio version (opens in a new tab)



This blog post completes my assistive technology-themed webinar summaries for 2021. On December 14, 2021, I attended another webinar hosted by the

Great Lakes ADA Center.

The topic was

“Accessible Technology on Smartphones & Tablets for users that are Blind and Low Vision”.

The link above provides the presentation materials and event recording. The primary focus of discussion was mobile apps which can be of assistance to people with visual limitations. In this article, I will summarize what I learned.


All of the presenters represented

IBug Today

Which provides accessible technology training to individuals with visual limitations. The first focus was Android.

Android: Background

Android became available on September 23, 2008. There are a variety of Android phones from various manufacturers, including Samsung and Google. Different manufacturers include various software applications. Android is open-source, which means a variety of apps can be created without many restrictions. Discussion then occurred about the difference between virtual assistant and a screen reader.


Android Screen Reader versus Virtual Assistant

Some people do not understand the difference between screen-reading and a virtual assistant. With a screen reader, the user can navigate the screen. A virtual assistant can talk as well to perform specific tasks, but commands given to the Assistant use your voice.

Low-Vision Tips

For people with low vision, the level of magnification can be changed. Colors can also be changed. Select to Speak enables someone with low vision to hear specific text spoken aloud. Another presenter then spoke about the IPhone.


IPhone: Background

Apple is the only manufacturer of IPhones because I-devices are manufactured by Apple. Apple has control over what apps are in its app store.

IPhone: Accessibility Tools

Accessibility features on the IPhone are similar to Android, but different products. Example: IPhone has a virtual assistant named Siri. The IPhone’s screen reader is VoiceOver. Contrast control is available on the IPhone. The various presenters then engaged in a panel discussion about apps which they find useful.


Presenters: Panel Discussion

One presenter enjoys listening to music on Android using Spotify and YouTube. An IPhone user who presented prefers to listen to music using Pandora and Apple Music. She listens to podcasts using the IPhone app Downcast. For physical fitness, a presenter suggested using Google Fit. An IPhone user stated she enjoys using the Facebook app. An individual who spoke about using Android prefers to use a Twitter app. The panel then spoke about shopping apps.


Mobile Shopping Apps

An Android user said he does grocery shopping using Instacart. He said there is a free tier and paid version. This app is available on both Apple and Android platforms. Some people also use food delivery apps such as Uber Eats, GrubHub or DoorDash. An IPhone user states she shops on her phone using Amazon. An IOS user said that there is an EBay app for buying items which are not necessarily available locally. Bottom line: many apps exist for a wide variety of purposes.


Question for Readers

What mobile apps do you find beneficial as a person with disability? I will return with another article.


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