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One Device to Rule Them All

iPhone with camera open

In the past, persons with disabilities often required a wide array of different devices to accomplish various tasks, such as separate devices to identify colors, to identify paper currency, or to read paper documents. Each of these devices served a necessary and unique function, but were usually expensive, and - unless they chose to carry all of their devices around all the time – weren’t always readily available to the user. With the proliferation of mobile devices and accessibility apps, this is thankfully no longer the case.

A single mobile device can now be used as a substitute for many of these separate devices. The inclusion of all of this functionality on a single device that users are always carrying means that users no longer must choose between carrying around a bag full of tools or going without them. These mobile apps also provide a huge cost savings to the user when compared to individual devices. Below is a list of common separate accessibility devices and their prices.

older camera setup to photograph documents

·Color/Light Identifier - $213

·Money Identifier - $129.95

·Talking Book Player (includes GPS) - $699

·Document Camera - $595

·OCR Software - \$1000

Total: $2636.95

The set of devices above provide the ability to detect light, identify colors and money, read books, get around/navigate, and read paper documents. The list above does not even include the cost of a computer, which is required to use the document camera and OCR software. Compare the cost for the assortment of individual devices above with the following cost of the same features via a mobile device and apps:

·Apple iPhone SE 16gb - $349 (includes Voiceover screen reader used to access apps)

·Color/Light Identifier – Free

·Money Identifier – Free

·Talking Book Player - $14.99

·GPS - \$39.99

·Document Camera – Free (uses the built-in phone camera)

·OCR App - $99.99

Total: $503.97

There are still situations in which the stand-alone devices may be preferable or more accurate, such as trying to OCR a W-2 or distinguish between two shades of a similar color. In some cases, the apps may not be able to provide all of the functionality included with the stand-alone device. For example, iOS allows users to type in Braille on the screen, but to read content in Braille, an external Braille display must be used. However, a mobile device and apps can replace many stand-alone devices for regular day-to-day tasks.

With such astronomical savings ($2,132.98), the convenience of having all of these features readily available from a single tool, and all the other benefits provided by an accessible mobile device – such as access to phone, texts, email, calendar, web browsing and more – it’s no surprise that the mobile device is the one device to rule them all.

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