Apps that make life more accessible

Phone and tablet apps can help remove some of the barriers you face in daily life. This could be anything from turning speech into text to finding an accessible toilet.

We've collected together some of the ways apps can help you and included some examples. We have focused on what the apps can do so you can search for new or similar apps.

Read more about assistive tech training and support.

Warning Some apps cost

Check the costs of using the app you are interested in. Some are:

  • free
  • free to download with in-app purchases, including subscriptions
  • paid to download
  • paid to download with in-app purchases

Some apps offer a free trial. Make sure you cancel if you do not want to be charged automatically.

We do not endorse these apps

Scope is not responsible for the websites we link to. We do not endorse or accept liability for the apps used as examples.

We have included apps to support people with a variety of access needs. But some apps might not be inclusive of all access needs.

If an app is not accessible to you, contact the app provider to tell them about your access needs.


Warning Some apps will use up data quickly

Some apps will use a lot of data if you're using the app when you're out. If you're using an app without Wi-Fi, check your settings to find out how much data each app is using.

Some apps that use your location and camera will drain your battery quicker.

Audio apps

There are plenty of apps that can help with audio and transcription. You might need different apps for different situations.

Entertainment subtitles

Some apps show subtitles on your phone for TV programmes or movies that do not have subtitles. Once synchronised, they will appear in real-time. You can use the app in the cinema too.

To see if this type of app will help you, you could try:

Subtitle Viewer! for Apple

Some TV apps, like Netflix, Amazon Prime or BBC iPlayer, have subtitles for some shows. Subtitles are not always available. Check on the app.

Live transcription for phone calls

Some apps can help transcribe your phone calls into text.

For both Android and Apple devices, you could try:

Roger Voice, which adds captions to voice and video conversations in real-time when using the app.

Relay UK (previously Next Generation Text) offers a text relay service. While you are having a phone call, an assistant:

  • listen and type what’s being said to you so you can read it
  • read out responses you type

Live transcription and notetakers

There are apps that will give you live transcriptions of what is being said around you. This could be a conversation in the pub or for a lecture or talk. It’s best to ask permission from the people you are recording.

Some apps are limited in what they can transcribe. The technology is evolving so it's worth checking for new apps and updating the ones you use.

To see if this type of app will help you, you could try:

Google Live Transcribe for Android offers "real-time transcription of speech and sound to text on your screen".

Otter focuses on meetings transcription but it also transcribes conversations. Otter is available on Apple and Android.

Just Press Record app for iPhone transcribes audio recordings, such as lectures, talks or meetings.

Glean allows students to record classes and add notes. Then you can organise them. You can tag particular bits for example.

Sound amplifiers

There are apps available that help you hear what's happening around you more clearly. This might be by reducing background noise or boosting the sounds you want to hear.

For Android devices you could try:

Hearing aid control apps

Some hearing aid apps help you to customise volume, filter noise and focus on speech. Others can connect your phone's audio to your hearing aids.

Most hearing aid manufacturers offer these apps but compatibility depends on:

  • the make and style of your hearing aid
  • your phone model

Ask your hearing care professional for more details.

Vision apps

There are many apps that help visually impaired people. There are also built-in accessibility features that help make using your phone and apps easier. For example, magnification, text to speech and voice control capabilities.

Smartphone accessibility features

Apps that tell you about your surroundings

Some apps can help you understand your surroundings. This might be:

  • recognising and describing objects
  • reading text, documents or handwritten notes aloud
  • telling you what's in front of you
  • scanning barcodes of products
  • recognising faces, currencies and colours

Features to try:

Lookout by Google is available on Android devices.

Envision AI. You can train this app to recognise friends and family. Available on Apple and Android.

Seeing AI can describe photos on your phone and in other apps. Available on Apple and Android.

Other apps to try:

Be My Eyes connects you to a volunteer via a live video call. Volunteers can help you with things like:

  • checking expiry dates
  • distinguishing colours
  • reading instructions
  • or navigating new surroundings

BlindSquare is an accessible app that describes the environment. It announces points of interest, like shops or restaurants, and street crossings as you travel. Available on Apple devices.

Lazarillo guides you through city and building environments with real-time voice messages. Available on Apple and Android.

Communication apps

Some apps can help you communicate. These might include apps that:

  • speak prepared phrases and text
  • help you communicate in writing
  • work as an Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) tool

Some AAC tools will let you choose different voices.

Communication aids and AAC

For help with communication, you could try looking at:

Sleep, relaxation and sensory support apps

Relaxation, meditation and sleep

You could try meditation and mindfulness apps like:

BetterSleep

Headspace

Smiling Mind

Buddhify

All the apps are available on Apple and Android.

Sensory support

Some apps are designed to help those who experience sensory overload. Some apps will calm or relax the user. Others might stimulate the user with things like kaleidoscopes, infinity tunnel and touch effects.

You could try:

Miracle Modus uses hypnotic mathematically-patterned rainbow lights and soft bells. The creator is autistic and wanted something to help with sensory overload. There are different settings to suit your needs.

Miracle Modus for Apple.

Sensory App House offers a range of apps to help with sensory needs.

Organisation apps

There are plenty of apps that can help you organise your life. These types of apps can help you with different things, such as:

  • motivation
  • organising a work project
  • making 'to do' lists
  • reminders for daily activities, like brushing your teeth or taking medication

The right app for you will depend on your needs, you could try:

Habitica is a free habit-building and productivity app that treats your life like a game. With “in-game rewards and punishments to motivate you and a strong social network to inspire you”, the app can help you achieve your goals.

Todoist helps you organise and prioritise your tasks and projects.

Finch is an app to help you with habits and tasks. It has a similar ‘gamifying’ element like Habitica but you’re growing a little bird.

Most days is an app to help you create habits.

Notion can help you organise big projects but also daily life. It has lots of templates.

Both apps are available on Android and Apple.

Reading and dyslexia apps

Some apps can help people with dyslexia or reading challenges. These apps can help by:

  • reading out text
  • copying text from documents and images
  • highlighting text as it is spoken
  • correcting spelling, grammar and misused words

Claro Read can help you with reading text, editing PDFs and magnifying text.

Voice Dream apps can help with reading, writing and scanning documents. Available on Apple devices.

Dyslexic.com has a list of useful apps.

NaturalReader is text-to-speech for multiple formats.

Making your phone easier to use with apps

There are apps that can help make your phone or tablet easier to use.

To see if these types of app would help you, try:

Voice Access for Android lets you use voice commands to do:

  • basic actions and navigation from any screen ('go back' or 'go home')
  • gestures that interact with things on the screen ('click next' or 'scroll down')
  • text editing and dictation ('type hello')

Voice Access may work better with some types of voice than others.

SwiftKey and Gboard (the Google keyboard) allow you to swipe across the keys to type. They use word prediction to help you correct mistakes. The apps are useful if you need help using a standard keyboard or to type one-handed. Gboard also has a ‘one-handed’ mode that shifts the keys to make them easier to reach. Both apps are available on Apple and Android.

DOTKey helps you type quickly and comfortably with 1 hand. The app uses taps, swipes and other hand gestures to type instead of using a keyboard.

Some phones might have in-built features like these apps, such as the iPhone's Siri or one-handed keyboard.

Phone accessibility features

Apps for travel and directions

Developers are releasing apps that can help you go out and enjoy activities with fewer barriers. Many of these apps are designed for disabled people.

They might help you with things like finding accessible locations, such as restaurants, pubs, cinemas or theatres.

It can also help to look for apps that are not specifically designed for disabled people but support your access needs, like travel apps with live updates or apps for pubs and restaurants that let you order and pay from your table.

Available on both Apple and Android devices, you could try:

AccessAble, which used to be 'DisabledGo'. This helps you to search accessible places to go. They also have 'access guides' for some stores.

Blue Badge Parking app for iPhone and Blue Badge Parking app for Android helps you find parking spaces.

Changing Places toilet app helps you find accessible public toilets across the UK.

CinemApp lets you search for cinemas and book tickets.

Passenger Assistance app (National Rail)

Sociability app helps you find accessible places.

Trainline app and Bus checker app help you find out travel times and get live updates to your phone rather than relying on displays or announcements.

Uber app and Gett black taxi app can help you order a taxi without needing to call. Most black cabs are wheelchair accessible. With the Gett app you can add a note to your booking telling your driver you might need assistance. Uber offer accessible taxis in certain cities.

If you need directions, use your phone or device to access:

  • Waze accessible sat nav for drivers
  • Moovit for public transport across the UK
  • Citymapper for transport in some cities in the UK, Europe and the United States
  • Google Maps

Read AppleVis about apps for blind and low-vision users of Apple products.

Apps that store tickets and documents can help you avoid printing and carrying paper when you're out. This might be:

  • train tickets
  • boarding passes for planes
  • phone contactless payments

Some apps will have this function as part of the app, like train or airline apps. Other apps might come with your phone, like Apple Wallet.

Help at home apps

There are some apps that help around the home. This could be anything from food shopping and prescription delivery apps to apps that connect to tech in the home, like heating systems, lights or devices.

Amazon Alexa accessibility

Accessibility features on Google Nest or Home devices

HomePods (Apple)

Online banking apps

Apps make it easier to manage your money. It avoids needing to call or go to a branch. They can also help if you need to report a stolen or lost card but cannot call.

Ask your bank about accessible services

Gas and electricity smart meter apps

Apps could allow you to top up credit from home.

Get extra help from your energy supplier

Home heating

There are apps that let you control your heating and thermostat. For example, Hive or BT.

Finding apps for your needs

You can find out more about apps and other assistive technology by:

  • talking to people
  • searching on social media
  • reading product reviews

Search for product reviews

Last reviewed by Scope on: 14/03/2024

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