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Global Accessibility Awareness Day: 4 apps that make tech more inclusive

To mark Global Accessibility Awareness Day, a look at four apps that make technology more accessible for users with disabilities and impairments

Credit: Facebook/Microsoft Translator
Credit: Facebook/Microsoft Translator

According to World Health Organization data, the number of visually impaired people globally is estimated to be around 285 million, while more than 450 million are affected by disabling hearing loss. On Global Accessibility Awareness Day, which falls on the third Thursday of May, we look at four apps that seek to empower such users.


This American Sign Language keyboard app comes with both left- and right-handed gestures, a QWERTY layout and numbers from 1-30. It can be used on devices to type in messages and emails. The app is designed by ASLized, a non-profit that produces and promotes educational videos in American Sign Language.

An interesting alternative to Signily, the ASL app helps you learn conversational sign language on the go, including some 2,000 common phrases and signs: This includes the English alphabet, numbers and universal hand gestures.

Available on Android and iOS

Microsoft Translator

Among the many translator apps, Microsoft Translator has garnered some glowing user reviews. It works as a free translator app and is available in more than 60 languages. It comes with a camera translation feature that allows a user to translate the text within photographs and screenshots. There is also the option of a split-screen feature to facilitate a bilingual conversation between two users. It can work both online and offline, so this translator app is as handy as they come. The app, which supports Hindi, Urdu, Bengali, Tamil and Telugu, added five new Indian languages in April—Marathi, Gujarati, Punjabi, Malayalam and Kannada.

Available across Android, iOS and Windows

Google Lens

An almost omnipresent feature on Android smartphones, Google Lens can do everything from scanning and translating text to identifying objects around a user. Lens recently got an update that allows you to identify text from an image and copy it to your clipboard for further use. One of its most impressive features, however, is the ability to convert text to speech in Google Go, Google’s search app for all entry-level devices. Once you have installed Google Go on your phone, you simply need to point the phone’s camera to any text that you need the phone to read out loud. Once you click a picture, you can choose to “translate", “listen" or “search". Do remember to turn on the “Select to Speak" option in your phone’s accessibility settings for this feature.

Available on Android


The object-recognition app is designed to help those who suffer from low vision or other visual impairments. The app uses an AI-powered machine learning system to recognize virtually any object, colour, facial expression or text. It delivers an audio description of the image’s contents to the user within seconds. iDentifi’s user interface is minimalistic and simple. The screen is divided into four brightly coloured large quadrants (for people with low vision) which a user can navigate with the help of audio cues. You can also toggle settings to change the recognition mode and the speed at which you want the app to speak. The app comes in 27 languages, making it accessible to a large base of users—but it is yet to be launched in India.

Available on iOS.

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