Everyday, technology evolves in new and exciting ways to assist people in their everyday lives. For people with disabilities, accessibility is not only highly necessarily, but often extremely frustrating to find. Not only has technology made phone apps readily available, but also many developers are using them to create services to assist people with disabilities. Whether you’re searching for assistance with communication, looking for an accessible parking space, or wanting to hire a care team - there’s an app for that!
The National Relay Service App
The National Relay Service provides vital methods of telephone communication for deaf, hearing impaired, or speech impaired Australians. The app provides four calling options for users: internet relay to type and read the conversation, Speak and Listen, video relay to facilitate the use of Auslan, and captioned relay. The service provided is free, but users may be charged by their internet providers for the use of broadband data. The NRS app is available in Google Play and in the App Store.
RIDBC Auslan Tutor: Key Signs
The Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children has developed a helpful app aimed at teaching common Auslan signs to children and adults. The app features 150 common signs, the Auslan alphabet, and numbers 0 to 10. Each entry is paired with a photo of the hand shape as well as a video demonstrating how to use the sign making it easy and fun to learn to communicate with Auslan.
HelpTalk allows people who are unable to communicate fluently to create sets of icons that represent their needs and feelings. Users often find this system helpful in communicating with health professionals, carers, and family members as they can personalise the actions and feelings to best suit them. The app also has a ‘talk’ interface where they can type in anything they’d like that isn’t represented by the icons. For users with low dexterity, there are large yes and no buttons for accessibility.
HelpTalk also features an SOS mode. When the SOS button is tapped, the app sends an alert message to a preconfigured number of a carer or family member with the user’s current location and coordinates. If the phone receives a preset message from a registered number it will release the location and coordinates also, making it invaluable as a safety device.
Travel and Transport
BlueBays is a South Australian app that helps people to find accessible parking spaces across the state. Users are able to add and map accessible parking spaces from their commute and share additional information about the location such as meter prices. The app has been developed by the Department for Communities and Social Inclusion (Government of South Australia) and it is available in Google Play and in the App Store.
Tap2Review is a space for people with a disability to research and review the accessibility of their community. The app allows users to select any location in Google Places and leave a detailed comment assessing its accessibility level. Also provided is an index of information about assistance dog laws, locations that assistance dogs are allowed to enter, and what to do if those laws are broken.
Out & About
In a similar vein as Tap2Review, Out & About is an Australian app that allows community members to find and review venues and events for accessibility. This provides a particularly handy resource for users who are looking to travel as they can find accessible locations to add to their itinerary ahead of time.
Care and Assistance
Developed by the Independent Living Center WA, EquipMyself aids people with a disability to discover and research assistive equipment in Australia. As well as being a great planning tool, the app spotlights true stories of local people and how they use their assistive equipment in their lives. You can download the app in Google Play or in the App Store.
Autism & Disability
Created by the Raising Children Network, parents of children with autism or disabilities can use this app to connect to services in the local area and receive guidance for moving through the Australian services system. There are also educational videos created by other families to share experiences, tips, and up to date information and research. It is a wonderful and easy to use service which connects parents and families to a support system local to them.
Better Caring & HireUp
Better Caring and HireUp are both fantastic online platforms that provide an easy way for people with disabilities to connect with and manage support workers. HireUp focuses particularly on matching individuals who share a common interest and boasts success stories of clients and carers who participate in shared hobbies together.
Better Caring provides an additional service for aged care personnel and works hard to maintain a system where it is easy to post and reply to adverts, message other users, organise timesheets, and manage care staff all in one convenient place.
The Plan Tracker app is a simple method of self-managing NDIS funds. It allows users to plan spending, record supports, track claims and see their budget. It is a great addition to other NDIS programs in ensuring that people with disabilities can use their plan to its fullest potential.
The Health Now app is an information collective that’s extraordinarily helpful for anyone with a disability or chronic illness. When logged in, users are able to: talk with a doctor when needed, schedule their consultations by phone, access their My Health Record and prescription information, and keep a list of key healthcare information to assist carers, friends, and family. Find this app available in the Apple App Store and in Google Play.
Phone apps are an increasingly useful way for people with disabilities to find support and accessibility. From learning Auslan to planning a holiday, they can help make users’ day to day lives easier and connect them with vital services in their local area.