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Vision Australia’s Assistive Technology team member have narrowed down their favourite apps, great for people who are blind or have low vision.

1. Seeing AI

Cost: free

Description: Talking camera detects everyday items near you.

Why it’s good: Speaks text as soon as it appears in front of the camera; scans barcodes, uses audio beeps to guide you; describes an overall scene; identifies colours, reads handwritten text like in greeting cards; saves people’s faces so you can recognise them.

2. Be My Eyes

Cost: free

Description: Connects you to a volunteer who you can ask for assistance in identifying things like currency or labels.

Why it’s good: It’s a global, multi-lingual initiative and is available 24/7. The volunteer on the other end of the call will be able to see using the user’s smartphone camera. Just use with discretion.

3. Cash Reader

Cost: free (offers in app purchases)

Description: Camera identifies bank notes and vocalises the denomination.

Why it’s good: Other apps like Seeing AI do this too, but this app has Australian currency loaded onto it. It also includes any new banknotes.

4. VA Connect (Vision Australia Library)

Cost: free

Description: Accessible and public library for those with a print disability.

Why it’s good: The app is completely accessible, and allows you to search, select and read a vast range of books and other publications. It is updated daily with the latest Australian newspapers and magazines so you can keep up to date with the news.

5. GoodMaps Outdoor

Cost: free

Description: Blind specific GPS

Why it’s good for blind/low vision users: It's a fully accessible turn-by-turn GPS app for smartphones. It's made in collaboration with Guide Dogs VIC/NSW/ACT, it's designed specifically for Australian locations. It also gives you the altitude and speed, and lets you know about upcoming turns and critical intersection information via audio and/or vibrations.

6. Soundscape

Cost: free

Description: 3D sound map that calls out points of interest, roads etc.

Why it’s good: Great for walking. Soundscape is designed to live in the background and provide you with ambient awareness. It calls out the key points of interest, roads and intersections that you pass. These can be adjusted and turned on and off. “My location" describes your current location and the direction you are facing. View the video tutorial.

7. Super Lidar (note: only available on iPhone 12 Pro)

Cost: free

Description: Scans and maps the 3D layout of your environment to determine the distances of your surroundings and gives verbal feedback to avoid obstacles.

Why it’s good: Great for maintaining social distancing. Through the phone’s camera, it will vocalise distances of people and tell you if they’re wearing masks or not. Most features work without an internet connection so that users can use it in any situation.

8. Smart Magnifier

Cost: free

Description: Turns your device into a magnifying glass via its camera.

Why it’s good: Zoom in and magnify objects by using your smartphone’s camera. The flash can be turned on to light up the object and, you can adjust the filters to help you differentiate colours or use a freeze‑frame to get a static close‑up.

9. Voice Dream Reader

Cost: $30.99

Description: Text-to-speech reader that turns any document into audio.

Why it’s good: Built in scanner to recognise text. It works offline and plays in the background even with the screen locked. Available in 27+ languages. Supports DAISY text-based books and audiobook, PDFs and web articles.

10. VIP Code Reader

Cost: free

Description: QR code finder.

Why it’s good: The app plays sound as you get close to a QR code and then reads it out. Perfect for visiting a café and signing yourself in.

Useful shopping apps

Woolworths and Coles apps allow you to search for a product and it will tell you what isle it’s in as well as the price.

Same for Bunnings Product Finder. You can search for a product and it will tell you what isle it is in as well as the cost and if it is in stock.