Best Gadgets and Apps for the Visually Impaired

Out of all of the websites I’ve written for, I have had few pleasures greater than for writing for TechAcute.com, which has an enormous wealth of that will help you learn about a number of new technologies. This story about a new PayPal feature caught my attention most recently, and I think it would be great for visitors to check it out.

Technology has found a way to improve the lives of everyone from the most fortunate of us to the least. The visually impaired are no exception to this. Their right to computers and technology is without question, and developers have been creating applications and devices that make their world a whole lot easier to manage.

Here are a few gadgets and apps that those with extremely poor vision or no vision will find useful:

A Virtual Private Network

Cyber-criminals attempt to steal data from anyone at any time. This is why you need to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to protect yourself and your privacy. What a VPN will do is connect your computer or device to an offsite server, often in a different country, and have the server make any requests you need. The connection is also encrypted, so that you can be assured no one will be able to look in on your communications and data transactions online.

These protections are relevant in several ways. The most immediate protection is on public networks, where hackers will often lurk in order to intercept your data over a dangerous public network. This data can include passwords, financial info, ways to get into your email, and more, but the encryption will keep hackers guessing as to what you’re really doing. The other main benefit is that your IP address will be masked by the offsite server, allowing you the freedom to browse without being tracked.

All of this results in a VPN being your best protection against identity theft and privacy breaches, things you do not want when you already have to deal with a disability. There are a number of different services out there, all with their own benefits and disadvantages. To learn more, you will want to read some reviews in order to find out what the best VPNs are. This way you can properly take advantage of their security benefits.

Dragon Naturally Speaking

If you can’t see, then communicating via typed text is going to be difficult. Yet thanks to the improvements in dictation software, you can now speak naturally and easily into a text document, an internet field, or other necessary online instances.

Probably the most popular and best of these products is Dragon Dictation Software, which is currently at Dragon Dictation 13. It has a host of features that allow you to rely more on their voice than on their vision and typing skills. It has grown greatly in reputation over the years and has found all sorts of applications in both homes and offices. It is also the program or application that has the most support from other software. It even works on social media applications.

While it may be a little expensive for some, it is an excellent program that is only improving with time as they collect more data on human speech patterns. Even if you try it and aren’t satisfied this year, try it again in a few years down the road. Your opinion may change.

Window Eyes

The visually impaired not only need something that will help them type but a way to know what is onscreen. For mild to moderate vision impairments, it might be easier just to use a bigger screen with zoom in features. For more severe impairments to complete blindness, you will want a program that will describe to you what is on the screen.

This is where Window Eyes comes into play. Since the visually impaired can’t easily use a mouse, keyboards can be used as a primary control mechanism. It works with modern Microsoft operating systems and will prove to be a great help for navigating the day to day uses of a computer. It reads off clearly and slowly whatever is highlighted, allowing for someone to understand what they are hearing and make clear decisions.

Unfortunately, the program costs quite a bit, ranging around $900. The good news is that there is a free demo available and that it seems to do all that it is supposed to and more. Window Eyes updates frequently, allowing someone to enjoy new innovations despite visual impairment.

FingerReader

FingerReader is a recently developed gadget that allows people to open a book, put their finger on the page, and scroll along as the device picks up the words and reads them. It uses a camera mounted on a rather thick ring and reads as you go along, allowing you to create the pace that you would like. It will also tell you should you deviate off of a line or when you read the end of a line.

Originally developed by MIT, it has yet to see commercial release. While this is a problem, it is exciting to think about the potential uses for the technology such as translation or definition. It currently has to be 3D printed, but you can probably expect this or a product very much like it to become more easily available in the near future.

The world is growing ever more reliant on technology, and no one can or should be left behind. Look to these programs and devices to help you or the person you care for access increasingly more technology and information.

About the Author

Cassie PhillipsCassie Phillips is a writer and blogger who specializes in website and internet security for Secure Thoughts. Say hi to her on Google+ and Twitter.

Photo credit: Quinn Dombrowski / Fluid Interfaces / Ai SquaredNuance / Foundry

Leave a Reply