Phone Apps for people with a vision-impairment

Bernadette Lancefield
Summary 
CamFind is a free and easy to use phone application that allows you to identify objects by taking photos. CamFind can be a helpful tool, especially for a person without sight. BrailleTouch is a program that allows you to type on an iPhone touch screen, using a Braille keyboard. While I found this application a bit frustrating to use, I like the idea of it.
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Bernadette Lancefield on 09/04/2015
A photo of an iPhone 5C.
I used the iPhone 5C.

I used an iphone 5C.

Over the past few years, I’ve tried many phone applications with varying degrees of success. Recently I tried CamFind and BrailleTouch. While these applications have different functions, they share a similar aim, which is to assist people with a vision impairment.

CamFind

CamFind is a free and easy-to-use phone application that allows you to identify objects by taking photos. Camfind can also read labels and scan barcodes. I used an iPhone 5C when trying out this application but CamFind should work on any smart phone with a camera.

How does CamFind work?

Aim the camera on your phone towards an object and double tap the “Take picture” button. After a few seconds CamFind announces the object. If it’s unable to, it will let you know by saying “too dark”, “too blurry”, or “too close”. It will then ask you to “please retake”.

Trying out CamFind

I’ve had lots of fun trying out CamFind. After snapping a photo of my computer, CamFind told me that it was a “black HP laptop”. When I ran my finger down the screen, I discovered a link to an Amazon website selling computers, as well as a “related images search” button.

CamFind was also handy in identifying pantry items although I often have to take a few photos to find where the label is on the product. When I photographed a packet of flour, CamFind told me that it was “self-raising flour”. It also informed me that a jar of stir-fry sauce was “Continental chicken tonight simmer sauce creamy mushroom”.

CamFind seems to be fairly accurate in identifying colours but on occasion can be off the mark. I took a photo of a  brown jacket and CamFind told me that it was “black and grey”.

CamFind recommendation

CamFind can be a helpful tool, especially for a person without sight. I particularly like the fact that it can read labels, although improvements could be made to this feature to make it easier for a blind person to aim the camera properly. I definitely recommend giving the application a go.

BrailleTouch

BrailleTouch allows you to type using its braille keyboard. The trial version is free, but you need to purchase the full version if you want to use the touchscreen braille keyboard for texting, sending emails or tweeting. BrailleTouch is only compatible with iPhone 3GS or higher, iPod touch 3rd generation or higher and iOS 5.0 or higher.

Holding the phone

When using the BrailleTouch keyboard, you hold your phone so that the screen is facing away from you, in landscape mode. Typically, the home button is on the right and the volume buttons are on top. The case on my phone helped me to have a firm grip.

After familiarising myself with the braille keyboard, I tried sending a text. Once I’d finished the message, I wanted to read over it. To my annoyance, BrailleTouch wouldn’t allow me to review or edit what I’d just written.

BrailleTouch recommendation

I found BrailleTouch frustrating to use. The concept of using a Braille keyboard on a smart phone, however, opens up exciting possibilities. I believe that, with some improvements, this application could be helpful for a person who uses Braille.

 

 

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