Two of the things that blind people like myself usually love are words and audio content of all kinds. I’ve been looking at three incredible and fully accessible iOS apps that help with speedy typing, finding and ‘pinning’ interesting items for later and efficient audio editing.
FlickType is a bit like a new incarnation of Fleksy and has some of the FlickType team behind it. It works as a miraculous keyboard app that enables you to rapidly tap on the screen in a vague approximation of a word, possibly getting every single letter wrong but still giving you the right word as a result. FlickType matches the shape of the word you've tapped out with the shapes of actual words, and offers you the closest match by default, along with a list of other potential matches.
After an extensive period of beta testing, FlickType is now available as a free app for iOS. Here is FlickType in action as demonstrated by me, a completely blind person (which I’m sure will be all too apparent as I miss the majority/all of the letters I’m aiming for).
Currently only a standalone app, FlickType will soon also be available as a system keyboard. My concern about this is that, as a blind person tapping out words, if I accidentally tap too high and into the app above the top of the keyboard, what will happen? Well, the developers assure me that you’ll be able to do this and still be considered as typing on the keyboard. I’ve absolutely no idea how they’ll pull off this fantastic feat but I look forward to 'seeing' it in action.
Pinterest is a free service beloved by over 200 million users worldwide. It helps you easily browse and ‘pin’ items such as posts, images and videos to save for later. Just as one might have done on an old fashioned cork board in real life.
Until a recent refresh, this app had a wide range of issues for people with low or no vision – from small fonts to poor colour contrast and unlabelled buttons (unlabelled buttons can't be read by screenreaders) that prevented a blind user from even being able to sign-up for the service in the first place – but now you’ll see (or hear) a huge difference. Check it out. For more details about changes and the team’s motivations, there's a great piece on the Fast Company website here. Or perhaps pin it for later?
Perhaps more than any other group, blind people love audio – and especially the spoken word. Podcasts and audio books are favourite methods of obtaining news and pursuing interests.
Many blind users are also audio creators. I’m personally involved in two podcasts: the daily Alexa skills podcast Dot to Dot and the all-things Apple podcast with a visual-impairment focus, called Maccessibility.
Being able to easily edit on the go is an incredible productivity boost - particularly if your podcast is daily like Dot To Dot. Ferrite is an amazing iOS app that takes the complex arena of audio editing and simplifies it into a really clean touch-first experience that is totally inclusive for everyone.
Ferrite is free with an in-app purchase available for some additional features. I.e advanced audio-editing (such as the magic auto-levelling for those times when voices are at a range of volumes or, in the case of recording demos of Alexa’s skills, when certain games or quizzes have sound-effects that would otherwise blast the ears of the listener), this app is the all-in-one studio on the go.
It’s an achievement to make a primarily text-based app accessible, but an audio-editing app with its playhead, waveforms and splicing points all accessible deserves a huge round of applause. If only I could edit such an applause into this article at this point!
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