While tablet computers – with their more compact screens and lower resolution that usually accompanies a wireless device – may not seem like a great tool for the visually impaired, Apple (News - Alert) has taken steps to ensure that its popular iPad tablets can in fact accommodate those whose eyesight is less-than-optimal.
At the Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (ABVI), instructors teach their clients how to use features built into Apple's iPhone (News - Alert), iPad and iPod Touch, added to help them in communication and daily tasks, according to Rochester, New York's Democrat & Chronicle.
Chris Frank, career and training leader at ABVI, pointed out that newer Apple mobile devices have a number of features designed to help the visually impaired. These include a reverse contrast setting that switches from black text on a white background to white text on a dark background to make it easier to read. There is also a zoom feature that allows readers to magnify everything on the screen.
“There is also the voice-over feature that goes through and reads everything in focus audibly back to the user,” Frank told the Democrat & Chronicle. “So the user has the full use of the device using the audio feedback.”
There are also a number of apps available for Apple devices that help the visually impaired. These include GPS apps that talk to the user; a money reader that identifies the denominations of bills; a color identifier; a light detector, an app that will assist the visually impaired in booking a taxi, tracking its mileage and knowing when the taxi is approaching; apps that read e-mail, Web pages, stock prices, weather, text messages and other text to the user; a video-motion detector and many others. (You can find a list of some of the best apps for the visually impaired here on AppAdvice).
Known as “adaptive technology,” these types of solutions are normally very expensive for the visually impaired. In some cases, it can cost $1,000 to outfit a computer with adaptive software. In the case of the iPad and other Apple devices, these settings are standard at no extra cost.
“Over the years there has been a lot of barriers to using adaptive technology at home,” Sarah Favro, who manages activities for children at ABVI, told the Democrat & Chronicle. “At work, I have a computer with adaptive technology so I can carry out all my daily tasks on the job. This has almost been liberating because I can actually use this device that other people have and it is not too expensive and accomplish all of these different tasks.”
Edited by Braden Becker