iThinkican: iPhone Apps for Disability Accommodation

by Deborah Z Mark


Implementing accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act can be challenging for business owners. In some cases, an inexpensive app for an iPhone or other device can help.

Disability Accommodation

The Job Accommodation Network (JAN) has several suggestions for useful apps for disability accommodation, all at little or no cost (prices may change):

  • Locabulary, iTunes, FREE! This has a database of moods, foods, and assistance symbols. It also has built in GPS enabled categories specific to the user’s current location. For example, if the GPS sees that you are near a McDonald’s, it will add phrases such as “I would like a Big Mac”.
  • TuneWiki, iTunes/Android Marketplace/Blackberry App World, FREE! This app streams songs and videos with real-time lyrics on the screen.
  • Glucose Buddy, iTunes, FREE! Mainly used as a data storage device. You can track exercise, insulin, carbohydrate consumption, and glucose numbers.
  • A Special Phone, iTunes, $0.99. This app makes the iPhone functional to those with vision impairments or fine motor limitations. Instead of a standard keyboard, you can pre-program the phone to dial someone based on the number of shakes you give it.
  • SoundAmp, iTunes, $4.99. Turns your phone into a hearing aid with its amplification capabilities. You can record real-time lectures and presentations and export them into your computer. Useful for the hearing impaired as well as those with learning disabilities and motor impairments.
  • iSign, iTunes, $4.99. This is a reference, tutorial program that has over 800 American Sign Language gestures. This may help break down communication barriers between those who primarily sign and those who do not.
  • iConverse, iTunes, $9.99. This is a simple app useful for people with speech impairments and young children. It is a simpler augmentative and alternative communication app (AAC) that comes with 6 basic everyday needs: Drink, Food, Bathroom, Sick, Break, and Help. In addition, you can program your own symbolism, which can be used to verbally communicate your needs/wants.
  • iCommunicate, iTunes, $49.99. This app is very flexible in the way it can be personalized. It has features that enable individuals with speech impairments to communicate through the database’s symbols or from photos on the user’s camera roll. You can create story boards or visual cues that turn the text/symbols into audio output (which can also be personally recorded).

Proloquo2Go, iTunes, $189.99. Targeted for those with speech impairments, this is a full service AAC app. It enables users to select from thousands of symbols to serve as a text-to-speech communication device.


JAN is one of several free services provided by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP). JAN offers comprehensive assistance and guidance to employers, employees with disabilities and their families, representatives and service providers. The organization helps people with disabilities enhance their employability, and shows employers how to capitalize on the value and talent that people with disabilities add to the workplace.

Questions regarding disability accommodation in the workplace? Call managestaff. We’ll help.


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image: Stuart Miles/