App Chat: Assistive Technology

16:53 minutes

The design of your buttonless, smooth smartphone is sleek, but is it user-friendly for all? For people living with disabilities, smartphones present both unique challenges and benefits. Certain features of iPhone’s iOS, like VoiceOver and Siri, for example, make it easier for users who are blind, have low vision, or have limited mobility, to use the device. But there are also a number of developers not only seeking to design apps that are accessible to a range of users, but to address specific concerns such as hearing loss and deafness. In fact, to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act, AT&T and the Ability Lab at New York University partnered for the Connect Ability Challenge, a competition that called on software developers to create apps and devices to “improve the lives of people living with disabilities.” Xian Horn, who was a judge in the competition; Steven Aquino, a tech writer and iOS accessibility expert; and Anita Perr, an occupational therapist, discuss current and upcoming types of assistive technologies.

Here are several apps, a few of which are easy to use for people living with disabilities, and the majority of which are designed specifically for people living with disabilities:

Marlee Signs
Keedogo keyboard

Segment Guests

Steven Aquino

Steven Aquino is a tech journalist and iOS accessibility expert based in San Francisco, California.

Xian Horn

Xian Horn was an exemplar with the AT&T NYU Connect Ability Challenge, as well as a beauty advocate and blogger based in New York, New York.

Anita Perr

Anita Perr is a clinical associate professor of occupational therapy at New York University in New York City.

Meet the Producer

About Becky Fogel

Becky Fogel is a newscast host and producer at Texas Standard, a daily news show broadcast by KUT in Austin, Texas. She was formerly Science Friday’s production assistant.