Most people like to be as independent as possible, whether they use a power wheelchair, a manual wheelchair, or have a different type of disability that does not affect mobility. If that describes you and you own a smartphone, you might be surprised at the wide range of applications available that can increase your level of independence.
Getting around can be challenging enough when you use an electric wheelchair or motorized wheelchair. It is even more frustrating to get to a store, coffee shop, movie theater, or other place in the community only to find that it’s impossible for you to get inside.
Although businesses serving the public should be handicapped accessible, sadly that is not always the case. This smartphone app currently lists more than 12,000 accessible establishments across the country and is adding more all the time. You enter your location and the type of business you would like to visit and receive a list of accessible options near you.
This app is ideal if you have a communication disorder due to complications of Parkinson’s disease, ALS, cerebral palsy, autism, stroke recovery, or several others. These conditions can make it challenging to form certain words or project your voice to a level where others can easily hear it. When you speak into the app, it recognizes your speech patterns and translates what you are attempting to say to others.
Imagine going for a stroll in your power wheelchair and getting lost or taking public transportation and ending up in unfamiliar area at night with no idea how to get back home. These are just the types of situations designed for the Red Panic Button app. You program the names and contact information of people you would like to contact in an emergency prior to using the app for the first time. If a situation arises where you realize you need immediate help, press the button to contact a person on your list and send them your exact location via Google maps.
If you are hard of hearing, you know that conversation can be challenging to follow even when using hearing aids. The Have You Heard app on the iPhone allows you to turn up the volume of the people around you by using the app with a specialized headset. Special features include the ability to set the sound for far or near and adjust the volume as you see fit. When you know that you have missed something important, the app allows you to replay the last 20 seconds of conversation.
By now, you are probably familiar with the Uber rideshare app that allows people to request a ride from the closest driver using their smartphone. Unfortunately, using Uber for transportation can be challenging for people who use a motorized wheelchair or who have other significant problems with mobility. UberACCESS is a separate app that allows you to fetch a vehicle with a four-point restraint system or a rear-entry ramp for easy access by those who rely on a manual or motorized wheelchair.
Uber has also introduced UberASSIST for passengers who do not need a power wheelchair for mobility but still need assistance getting in and out of the vehicle. Both programs allow you to use the scheduled ride feature to set up your transportation up to 30 days in advance.
The above are just five newer applications that may be available on Android phones, iPhones, or both. Be sure to check your phone’s Play Store to see what is available.