How mobile apps can help people with disabilities

TORONTO — Persons with disabilities have driven innovative solutions to overcoming barriers throughout the course of history. Today the innovative spirit of those attempting to overcome barriers continues through the ongoing development of mobile apps.


Ryerson’s Chang School of Continuing Education has funded the following mobile apps designed to overcome barriers:

— AccessNow — an app that uses crowdsourced information to produce interactive maps that direct users to accessible venues, shopping centres, restaurants, gyms and more;

— Awaits — a mobile app that aims to automate the consignment of wheelchairs at airports to help airline travelers requiring wheelchair assistance more easily connect with airport staff

— Flusher — matches users with mobility disabilities, newborns, and members of the LGBTQ community with locations that provide accessible washrooms and facilities that meet their preferences (i.e. diaper changing stations);

— Menuvox — helps visually impaired users to identify restaurants that provide menus accessible to screen readers, magnifiers, and even braille displays.

Mobile app innovations come in all different forms and are created around the world. Other examples of apps that help facilitate a more customer-friendly user experience in the hospitality and recreation sector include:

— Talkitt — this app translates unintelligible pronunciation into understandable speech, allowing users with speech disorders (e.g. ALS, cerebral palsy, stroke, Parkinson’s disease, traumatic brain injury, etc.) to communicate effectively with staff and employees to access goods, services and facilities;

— RogerVoice — this app, designed for deaf and hard of hearing users, translates verbal/auditory speech into readable text so that a person may read what another is saying on the other end of the phone;

— Wheel Mate — similar to Flusher, this app assists users on the go find accessible washrooms, facilities, and parking.

The cell phone, and more aptly the smartphone, breaks down barriers for more than just persons with disabilities. It has also enabled, through free and paid apps, the breaking down of information and communication barriers.

— Reprinted courtesy of Ryerson University and ORHMA.