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Smartphone apps are available for blind, deaf Missourians

It has gotten to the point that many of us cannot live without our smartphones or tablets. These devices help their user work and play, and can be highly addictive. But many people with limited vision and/or hearing cannot enjoy many of the features of the average wireless device without help.

Missouri’s Telecommunications Access Program Wireless Project is hoping to improve the smartphone and tablet experience for blind and deaf residents. The program, also known as TAP Wireless Project, is conducting a pilot program of providing devices to volunteers that are supposed to help them in their daily lives.

There are actually many apps already available for help with low vision, according to the Columbia Tribune. For instance, on the iPhone there is a feature that will read text on the screen aloud, and let the user know what he or she is pointing at on the screen. Another app can scan a piece of paper money and say the denomination.

So far, 225 people have participated in the pilot, including a 69-year-old woman who was born legally blind. She uses her phone to stay in touch with relatives and friends, read books, watch TV and surf the web. She also takes photographs thanks to another app, while yet another tells her what color things are, which helps her decide what clothes to wear.

New technology can help make life easier for disabled people in Missouri, but affording basic necessities often requires Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income benefits.

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