At Vodafone, we don’t want to leave anyone behind when it comes to enjoying all that mobile and apps can offer, so we've rounded up some of the most useful tools and tips to assist people with disabilities. Here's our one-stop guide.

In a world that’s increasingly dependent on smartphones, things can be difficult for those with disabilities – for all manner of reasons. Thankfully, new innovative mobile tools and targeted apps are helping to ensure that everyone has access to, and can harness the power of, smartphone tech.

From voice synthesizers and touch technology, to a Yelp-inspired app for disabilities, there’s a rapidly growing market of apps out there to help to make mobile use easier and improve the quality of life for people with disabilities, allowing them greater independence and autonomy.

At Vodafone, we don’t want to leave anyone behind when it comes to enjoying all that mobile and apps can offer, which is why we’ve rounded up some of the most useful tools and tips to assist people with disabilities. Here’s our one-stop guide.

If you’re visually impaired…

Opt for phones equipped with: a touchscreen – with speech feedback or magnification features, a physical or external keypad with large well-spaced buttons, and voice activation options, which most smartphones offer as standard.

Get these apps:

Be My Eyes | Android and iOS, Free

An app that’s for everyone, Be My Eyes pairs up visually impaired people with volunteers around the world who can assist them with a range of tasks. The visually impaired person uses their phone’s camera to take a photo or video of what they’re trying to see, and the volunteer can interpret it on their behalf. With the promise that 90% of calls are answered within 30 seconds, and available in different languages, the app helps to make things clearer– even if it’s only to ask which coffee pot is decaf.

GetThere GPS Accessibility | Android, Free

A simple navigation app designed specifically for blind and visually-impaired users, GetThere tells you where you are and how to get to your destination without a visual map. Instead, its navigational tech will keep you in the loop before and after every intersection, and even detect when you’ve gone off from the planned route. Plus, you can always ask GetThere to double-check your location; all you have to do is shake your phone. There’s also the ability to set an “alarm” for a location, so you’ll be alerted when you’re getting close.

Android Accessibility Suite (formerly Google Talkback) | Android, Free

This basic, but effective, accessibility feature aims to help the visually impaired navigate their devices. It includes an Accessibility Menu, Select to Speak, Switch Access, and TalkBack (a screen reader that provides spoken or and vibration feedback as you use your device).

If you’re hard of hearing…

Opt for phones equipped with: Hearing Aid compatible or amplified phones, Textphones and video calling features like FaceTime (Apple devices) if you prefer to use sign language.

Get these apps:

RogerVoice | Android and iOS, Free

A fast, reliable and versatile call captioning app that makes it easy for people who are deaf or have hearing loss to simply pick up the phone and chat. RogerVoice subtitles phone calls, so you get a real-time transcription of the conversation, allowing conversations by telephone, even if one or both of the parties can’t hear.

Text to Speech! | Android and iOS, Free

This app produces natural-sounding synthesised words from the text that you’ve entered in. There are 94 different voices to choose from, the pitch and rate are adjustable, you can save your most commonly used words and phrases, and you can even increase the font size so that it’s easier to read. Plus, it doesn’t require an Internet connection once downloaded, so it’s available no matter where you are or what you are doing.

Sign BSL (British Sign Language) | Android and iOS, Free

This is a comprehensive app for helping those who are deaf (or for people wanting to learn sign language) to communicate with those who are hard of hearing, letting you translate English into BSL. There are over 20,000 sign videos from A-Z, the numerical system, common English phrases, symbols and much more.

If you have mobile or dexterity issues…

Opt for phones equipped with: a light and easy to grip design (or grip case friendly), touchscreen that you can use comfortably with one finger, a physical or external keypad with large well-spaced buttons, and voice activation options (which most smartphones have built-in).

Get these apps:

AccessNow | Android and iOS, Free

This interactive app is all about “sharing accessibility information around the world,” allowing users to search for specific locations with the accessibility features you require. You can filter the map to find places with specific accessibility features and discover accessible places around the world. If the information isn’t on their map already, you can add it yourself.

Voice Access | Android, Free

This Google-created app is ideal for those who have difficulty manipulating a touch screen, giving you control over your device by voice. Using the power of Google’s Voice Search, your voice becomes the ultimate navigation tool: as a back button, home button and scrolling device – you can even type and edit text with it.

WheelMate | Android and iOS, Free

An app that takes the guesswork out of finding accessible facilities. You can find the nearest wheelchair-friendly toilets and parking spaces, on the go, thanks to WheelMate’s simple to use, interactive map. The app currently has more than 35,000 locations across 45 countries – and more are being added every day.

If you have speech or learning difficulties…

Opt for phones equipped with: a light and easy to grip design (or grip case friendly), touchscreen that you can use comfortably with one finger, a physical or external keypad with large well-spaced buttons, and voice activation options (which most smartphones have built-in).

Get these apps:

Touch Voice Gold AAC| Android and iOS, £18.49

If you or someone you know has trouble communicating via speech, or are nonverbal, this augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) app can help make daily life easier. Simply click on words or symbols onscreen and the app will verbalise words for you, effectively speaking on your behalf.

JABtalk | Android, Free

This is a great speech communication app for nonverbal adults and kids, which delivers a fun and easy-to-learn speech solution. By combining personalised voice and images with an extremely simple interface, JABtalk takes text-to-speech functionality one step further by including the ability to build complex sentences, organise words into user-defined categories, and import pictures and audio.

Google Assistant | Android and iOS, Free

Another excellent app for people with disabilities – and one that comes baked into most Android devices. With its enhanced voice command technology, Google Assistant makes any number of common daily tasks – from setting reminders to calling friends – easier.

Top tip: Most smartphones have a section in the settings labelled ‘Accessibility’ where you can find some helpful features to suit your needs. From increasing font size and screen contrast to enabling closed captions and text to speech options, there’s a range of modifications that can make life easier depending on your needs.

While not all features are available on every phone, we can cut through the clutter. Just pop into a Vodafone store and speak to us for help with choosing a device with all the features you need.

You can also find out more about the wide range of accessible services we offer, including a dedicated accessibility team and options such as Braille billing and a protected service scheme, here.

Get more great apps… Check out our rundown of this month’s essential downloads.