There are hundreds of thousands of apps and services available for Android smartphones, covering almost any function you can imagine. Among them are some apps which are intended to make using a smartphone much easier for those with disabilities. Here are 10 of the best.
The standard Android keypad for dialing is relatively well spaced, but this alternative fills the screen with much larger numbers and reads out the digits that are entered to make sure that partially sighted people can call accurately.
There are a number of mapping apps for Android, but this is the best one that takes into account the needs of those who are not able-bodied.
You can use your phone’s built-in GPS to navigate in real time, with spoken instructions telling you which way to go and, more importantly, where you are at any point. Full street-level imagery will keep you on the right route. This app will help to give users extra independence.
eSpeak for Android
This app has the ability to read out almost any file or web page, allowing you to listen to rather than read articles and menu information.
It goes above and beyond the basic integrated text to speed functions found in Android, although you will have to enter the settings menu in order to set it as your default choice.
This is a service developed by Google which lets you search through your phone for apps and contacts and also perform full searches of the internet without having to type anything in.
The standard Android interface can become cluttered with shortcuts, widgets and menu items, obscuring the basic features of your phone which may be tougher to access if you are physically challenged.
This app helps to get around this problem by presenting you with a simple set of shortcuts which will instantly take you to a number of predetermined phone features
You can customize the navigation panel as you see fit and avoid the stress of dealing with an interface that you might find cumbersome to operate.
This app lets you search for apps and services on your phone. But rather than using voice commands or requiring you to tap precise keys, it allows you to interact using touchscreen gestures.
You can draw large letters or input specific gestures in order to quickly find contacts in your list or even search for music tracks which you want to play back on your handset.
The app is intelligent enough to learn about your usage habits and it will get better at meeting your search needs the more you use it.
Vlingo Virtual Assistant
While you may have heard a lot of talk about Siri on the iPhone, Vlingo Virtual Assistant is a very capable Android alternative.
It lets you use your voice to do everything from calling a contact to composing a text message and searching for nearby businesses.
The app has a clear, large interface and requires just one or two button presses to get the speech-recognition service operational.
Choice Dialer Plus
This app aims to help you when you want to dial a contact without searching manually through the touchscreen interface.
You can use your voice to bring up the right person and then get audio confirmation that this is who you want to call. It even has dictation features to let you send messages, update your Facebook status or compose a tweet.
This app is suitable for able-bodied people as well as the physically challenged as it is designed to automatically read out inbound text messages without you having to interact.
This means that you will not even have to touch or look at your phone when you get a new message. It’s a good choice for when you want to stay in touch with people but can’t pick up your phone.
This is a fun game which is accessible to disabled users. It is basically a memory test which asks you to remember a sequence of flashing Android robots and then repeat it, with large icons making it easy to use.
There are plenty of other apps that are suitable for the physically challenged available to download via the Google Play service. It’s a good idea to go and try them out for yourself, since many are free or very inexpensive.
Sarah James is a writer and smartphone enthusiast who covers a variety of subjects for a number of technology sites and blogs. You can research sim only deals at Sim-Only.co.uk and use his advice to plan your next mobile upgrade.