For the blind and visually impaired, travel comes with a unique set of challenges. However, five smartphone apps are helping to ease some of those difficulties by making travel safer and more convenient.
BlindSquare uses GPS and information from FourSquare to describe the neighborhood, including points of interest and street names. The app is voice-activated and speaks in English, Spanish, French, German and 18 other languages. BlindSquare, developed by MIPsoft, recently won the American Foundation for the Blind’s Access Award and is available through iTunes for $29.99.
2. Ariadne GPS
Ariadne GPS, another GPS-based iPhone app, also helps travelers explore their environment. By enabling VoiceOver and touching the map, users can get a sense of their surroundings, including addresses, street names, and favorites spots that have been previously saved.
Curb, formerly known as Taxi Magic, helps travelers by allowing them to schedule and pay for cab service directly through the app. Curb connects users to professional cab companies and can even track the car’s arrival. Currently, the app works in 60 cities throughout the U.S. and is available for iPhone and Android.
4. LookTel Money Reader
LookTel Money Reader scans paper money using the phone’s camera and announces the denomination. This is an ideal app for travel since it can read 21 different types of currency from around the world, including dollars, euros, and yen. LookTel Money Reader is available for iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, and Mac OS X.
5. Awareness! The Headphone App
The Awareness! The Headphone App helps people remain mindful of their surroundings, even when they are wearing headphones. This is especially important for blind and visually impaired travelers. The app can detect loud, sudden noises and will interrupt the music and alert the app user. Awareness! is available at iTunes for $6.99.