Developing Accessible Apps for People who are Deafblind

By Dr. Arun Mehta, Bapsi

Bapsi is a small NGO in India that seeks to help those with multiple disabilities via free and open source technologies, with a current focus on the needs of the deaf-blind. Earlier, they needed an iPhone with a braille display to communicate. With free apps from our Vibration series, they can use Android smartphones costing as little as $50 to be able to send and receive information independently. To someone completely lacking vision and hearing, the phone sends text by vibrating in Morse code.

Taking advantage of a grant from the Information SocietyInnovation Fund, we are conducting training in Morse code for trainers at the Helen Keller Institute for the Deaf and the Deaf-Blind in Mumbai. We are also developing apps for two major categories of the deaf-blind: 1) senior citizens, who often have low vision and poor hearing, and 2) pre-literate children. 

Narangi is an Android app designed with the help of friends at the HomiBhabha Center for Science Education. It lets you draw with your finger in black on orange, and also sense what you have drawn -- when you move your finger on the screen, the device vibrates when there is black color under your finger. To clear screen, change the phone orientation from landscape to portrait or vice versa. 

Watch a short video on Narangi.  

Do you have any app ideas for people who are deaf-blind? If so, email Dr. Arun Mehta at arun (dot) mehta (at) gmail (dot) com. 


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