Apps provide services for users with disabilities

Young audiences are eager for portrayals in entertainment that more accurately reflect the diverse society in which they live, and this desire doesn’t stop at the screen. Offerings that address the needs of differently-abled people, from art to children’s clothing, are being created in response, including new apps that perform various services for underserved communities.


Microsoft’s Seeing AI uses artificial intelligence to assist in identifying the world for users with visual impairments, joining a related group of wearables that helps compensate for visual disabilities. Using the phone’s camera, the app can identify objects, read text, and even estimate the age and mood of people, providing audible descriptions. When connected to the cloud, it can perform more complicated functions such as recognizing handwriting. The app is particularly notable for its speed; results are generated in mere milliseconds.


Online dating has become commonplace, so much so that even professional job search apps are being modeled after successful dating platforms. The Glimmer app, while it’s available for use by anyone interested in finding friends or a romantic relationship, is intended specifically for users with a physical or cognitive disability, such as hearing impairments, autism, or mood disorders. Glimmer was inspired by the creator’s brother, who has cognitive disabilities and had difficulty finding potential partners on traditional apps. At present, 65% of Glimmer’s user base share that they have a disability.


With the help of funding from Ellen DeGeneres and Shutterfly, an entrepreneurial 12-year-old is creating an app resembling a Yelp for accessibility. The creator received input from actual people with disabilities when creating the Ability App, which will provide pertinent information to users, such as the availability of wheelchair ramps, designated parking, braille menus, and automatic doors. Gen Zs are a particularly inclusive group, and this isn’t the first app made by a Z to help others feel welcome.