Discovering the right app can be a game changer in making the little parts of your daily life much easier. There are many apps out there, from a verbal map that helps you identify locations nearby to an app that helps you coordinate your life with your support team—but how do you choose which one is right for you? We’ve compiled our top 5 assistive applications for people with disabilities or supported living needs. These were chosen because they make the little parts of daily life that much easier.
*While many of these apps are free, we’ve noted which apps have in-app purchases or require an upfront cost!
1. AssistiveTouch: Navigate Your Phone
A mobile phone can open a world of possibilities but navigating the phone itself isn’t always easy. AssistiveTouch allows you to operate your phone with a single finger. And the best part? If you have an iPhone, it’s already installed! All you have to do is turn it on.
The AssistiveTouch app is already built into every iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch. This feature helps people of all abilities perform functions on their devices, like pinching, swiping, and using Siri. To Turn on AssistiveTouch on your iPhone, follow the instructions linked here, or tell Siri “Turn on AssistiveTouch.”
Don’t worry, Android users. AssistiveTouch is available in the Play Store for free. However, in-app purchases are needed to remove advertisements. Also, for Android 12 and above, a variety of accessibility features can be found under settings, instructions can be found here.
2. AccessNow: Accessible Maps for any Location
AccessNow is a community-driven app that pinpoints accessible locations on an interactive map. Find nearby locations like restaurants, stores, parks, or attractions and view their accessibility ratings. You can also track your favorite places and help others in your community by sharing your experience and your own rating.
AccessNow is free and available on desktop, iOS, and Android devices.
You can also turn on Accessible places under settings in Google Maps. However, being able to gain insight from within the community is what makes AccessNow our preferred app.
Honorable Mentions: Wheelmate - helps users find accessible amenities.
3. Lazarillo - Accessible GPS: Visual Assistant
Lazarillo provides live voice guidance directly from your phone. The app will tell you where you are, what’s around you, and can identify a variety of locations you may be looking for (ex. banks, shops, cafes, and more).
For people who are blind or have low vision, Lazarillo lets you explore the world around you and set up routes. Lazarillo will provide audio updates while you are on the move, including announcements when you pass intersections or are coming up to your destination. The app and GPS can be used in the background, allowing you to receive audio updates while your phone is in your pocket or while you are using other apps.
Lazarillo is available for free on iOS and Android devices.
Note: when you turn on Accessibility on Google Maps, an icon will appear that will work similarly. If you are looking for transit system directions, you can always go into options and select "wheelchair accessible" for an accessible route. However, the live voice guidance makes Lazarillo our preferred app.
4. CoughDrop: Vocal Assistance
Whether you’re looking for an Augmented and Alternative Communication (AAC) system to give you a hand throughout your day, or you just need a communication assistant every now and then, CoughDrop’s mission is to help fill the gaps and make every voice heard. The app’s picture-based communication tool also offers a print print-out version of the communication map if you’re interested in a low-tech option.
Coughdrop is available for both iOS and Android. including tablets and computers. CoughDrop can be installed without purchasing, but a coughdrop.com account is required to log in, and functionality will become limited after the two-month trial period has ended.
5. Voice Dream: Reading Assistance
If you need an app that takes text from documents, websites, and DRM-free epub books and reads them aloud, then look no further! Voice Dream Reader App connects with a wide number of online document sources, including Google Drive, Evernote, and more. Readers can control the reading speed, bookmark and highlight the text, edit the text within the app, and a wide range of voices are offered. Most impressive of all, the Voice Dream Scanner App offers a tool to take a photo of your printed documents and read them aloud to you. Take it to restaurants to read menus, use it on your own household texts, or use the digital version to read websites and online documents aloud. The Voice Dream Reader, Writer, and Scanner are available separately or together in a bundle for iOS. Initial app requires a one-time purchase of $5.99 - $19.00 for individual apps or $29.00 bundle, with additional in-app purchases for accessories or customized reading voices.
Honorable Mentions: Legere Reader (for Android)
6. Bonus | LifeCourseOnline: Coordinating your Care Team
And of course, we can’t forget our favorite: LifeCourseOnline. Our Desktop App is now available on mobile! Sign up on behalf of yourself or an individual you support, create a support plan, and build and coordinate with a care team in one secure online platform.
The built-in calendar and communication tools allow you to stay organized and save time, while features like ‘raise your hand’ helps you advocate for support and leverage your team for a truly collaborative experience.
Did we miss any? If you know of an app that can make a difference for people with disabilities and supported living needs, contact us through our website or social media accounts.