Assistive Technology for the Blind and Visually Impaired | Tier List
I'm going to rank the best and most popular assistive technology for the Blind and Visually Impaired Hi everyone it is Carrie from Carrie on accessibility and I'm super excited about this video. I got this idea from Josh Tseng and he did a tier list for assistive technology. I'll share his video right up here and in the description. He has a pretty great Channel you should go check it out. He does a lot of fun things. If you're not familiar with what a tier list is it's pretty
fun you just sort out different things into S, A ,B, C, or D tier. S is that top tier Supreme, that's super, whatever, I don't even know what S stands for category. In my case, S does not mean that that particular assistive technology device or tool is perfect and if I put something in D tier, which is the lowest tier, that doesn't mean that it's trash or it's garbage or that you shouldn't use it. I still personally use things that I am going to put in the detail I'm sure. Just to be clear my definition of assistive technology is anything that helps somebody with a disability. I'm going to be ranking on a few different criteria. First is going to be the affordability and the cost. Is it free or does it cost an arm and a leg and thousands of dollars, that I don't know about you but I can't pay for. And of course there are a lot of different
programs and organizations that'll pay for you but I'm talking about purely out of pocket cost. I'll also be judging its practicality and usefulness. So how useful is this actual piece of equipment or software? Do I have to carry a big huge thing with me that's inconvenient? Is it actually helpful or does it just feel cool? Is it something that has potential but hasn't quite met its potential yet? And of course personal preference. this is my ranking and, you know, if you disagree with me let me know in the comments or you can make your own tier list. That would be so much fun to see. I just think this whole idea is a lot of fun. Everybody is different even in
the Blind and Visually Impaired community and I think that diversity and opinion is awesome. So the first category is technology and we're going to start out with number one a smartphone this is so easy for me this goes right into S tier and it's probably going to be the number one in S tier. Having a phone is amazing for accessibility. I don't know what I do without my cell phone. I have everything on there. I communicate on there I have all my different helpful
apps. I just do everything on my phone. It's given me so much Independence and maybe it's different for you, but this is probably my number one. Number two is a computer. This might be a little bit controversial. I know a lot of people in the Blind and Visually Impaired Community don't particularly like using their computer. I need my computer to work to be efficient and there are so
many other tools on the computer as well that just help me on a day-to-day basis. For me this also goes in S tier, but under the phone. So I'm going to put that right there. Number three is a tablet. it I have a tablet. I've done unboxings on this channel and I like having a tablet. For me it's mostly for entertainment. It has a lot of accessibility built into it and
there are things that I find more accessible on a tablet, but for the most part I'm probably going to turn to my computer or my phone. A tablet is going to go into A tier or maybe B tier. um, yeah, probably B tier. It's just- it's just a B tier for me. Plus a lot of them can be pretty expensive and if you go with affordability the screen's not great. And so either you have to pay a lot more to get better specs or a lot less and suffer from those lower specs. Next one is a screen reader. I'm visually impaired I use a screen magnifier but I also use a screen reader a lot of the time. I find it super helpful. I use a screenwriter for my computer and my phone
and my tablet. I find it really helpful even if I can still see there's just so much that a screen reader can do that my eyes can't. So for me this screen reader is going to be in S tier as well. Screen magnification? It's- it's going to be an S tier, but it's going to be after a screen reader. I actually just did an interview with Elena from Fable talking about a usability study that basically proved that it's more often that screen reader accessibility is far behind accessibility for screen magnification, but for me personally I love having a screen reader and not having to use my already bad eyes to look at things and to read things. Especially when there's a lot of reading and it just helps me do it so much more efficiently. If you're using a screen magnifier and, you know, you're pretty high magnification, I really encourage you to start learning how to use a screen reader. It really will help you in the long run. There can be a learning curve of course,
but it's just I think it has really helped me learning NVDA and Jaws, TalkBack, voiceover-- it's just so helpful and if you still have Vision you can use a screen reader and a magnifier together. The next one is dark mode and Screen accommodations like font and display size and things like that. This is going to be- mm- A tier? or a B tier? Probably an A tier. That feels right. There are a lot of visual modifications.. you can make your text bold; you can make it larger; you can change your display Zoom or your screen zoom and just make everything bigger. You can make dark mode. You can invert colors. There's a lot of different visual accommodations they just have a lot of drawbacks and I can't put it in S tier. If you
make your display size too big, things overlap and text overlaps if your font is too large. Sometimes dark mode is not consistent, so you have to keep inverting and reinverting and it can be a mess, but it's very helpful. So that's-- this is why it's going to go in A tier for me. Number seven is dictation! We all love and we all hate it. This is going to be-- boy-- I think this is going to be B tier, but before the tablet because I do use dictation a lot and of course if my message doesn't sound right I am so sorry. It's probably because I was using dictation and it totally got it wrong. So I apologize for that. It is so helpful because when it does a
great job it's great but when it does terribly, oof, it can be a pretty big blunder. I encourage you to always check what dictation has written because sometimes-- oh-- you might get in trouble. I think I'm gonna change my mind and put tablets in C tier because I really do like the tablet but I just think that it's not in the same category as dictation.
All right now Braille... this is gonna go in S tier for me. A lot of people think that we are in 2023 and we don't need Braille anymore but Braille can be so useful. I learned Braille when I was in school but I forgot it, but I'm relearning it through the new Braille Hadley lessons which is so completely online. And they send you the books. It's- it's really something I would encourage you to do as well. It's completely free and I think it's definitely worthwhile. It's not always convenient to use something like an OCR app or something like that. One of my favorite tools is a braille labeler and you can use that to label, you know,
different foods or different- or different wires and things like that. And I think that it's incredibly important especially for braille literacy for children. It's very hard to learn grammar and spelling without Braille. Hopefully, soon I'm going to be getting a braille display which I will be talking about in the channel in the future. Number nine is a person. I'm gonna put the this in A tier, right after uh- display accommodations. I think people are really great. They can be very helpful especially if it's your family member or
friend. They usually have great eyes and you can ask them so many things but they're not perfect and you always have this sense of, "am I being a burden? Am I asking too many questions?" There's also that awkward feeling of asking for help to strangers and so for me it's free, but it comes with its whole other problems as well. So for me it's an A tier. Next is audio description. I love audio description. I'm going to put this in A tier, right after humans. Audio description is amazing. I love using audio description for things like Disney plus, Netflix, Amazon Prime... I don't even have to watch anymore I can just listen to
the audio description. There's a lot of things that I can see but I don't understand- uh- and so audio description is so helpful for that. So I- for me- it's definitely an easy A tier. The next category is more General assistive technology or assistive technology that was specifically created for people that are blind or visually impaired.
Next, we have stand alone video magnifiers or CCTV or electronic video magnifiers. I have a CCTV but they are so expensive. This is going have to be in B tier or C tier? B tier or C tier? I'm going to put it in B tier for now though that might change-- it's um-- at the end of B tier. They are just extremely expensive. If you pay out of pocket they can be two thousand, three thousand, four thousand, even more. I think it's super crazy for prices to be that high but they do serve a purpose. You can of course use a magnifier
app on your phone or handheld thing but if you want a big screen with a magnifier and you are going to be doing a lot of reading or writing or school work, a CCTV is the way to go. It's a huge investment but if you are doing that kind of thing it will really help. Next one are magnifiers- Optical magnifiers. And that for me is the first D tier. It's the first one in D tier because they don't work for me. So for me personally, they are not useful. Perhaps they might help you but for me my vision is so bad that they don't help me. They can start pretty cheap like five ten dollars if you get a 1.5x, 2x, maybe even a 3X, something like that.
They can be super cheap but if you want an LED light and if you were going up to 8X, 10x, 12x, 14x- which is super high- Eschenbach is a really great brand. I recommend them but they are super expensive. I'm also going to lump in binoculars and monoculars in here. They don't really work for me- again my vision's too bad- and they can be pretty pricey as well. They used to work though. um- my mom called it a telescope, but it's really monocular, but I had one when I was younger and it did kind of help me see the board a little bit. Not anymore! Next, I have a picture of the eSight, but it's just any wearable magnifier.
I'm going to put this on D tier and I'm going to also lump in um um wearable tech that includes the magnifiers and also the OCR. They're just so expensive. There's the iris Vision which is also a really great product. There's orcam and there's Envision glasses. There's a lot of new ones coming out which I'll be featuring soon but they're just- they're just expensive. They're usually expensive. They're bulky, like it's like you have to have another like piece of tech that you have to carry around with you and just the practicality and the cost and the preference-- it's just-- that's just a D tier. I think they can be pretty helpful, they just have some cons to them so for me they go in the D tier. I think I will put it before the optical magnifiers though. Yeah, that feels right. The next one is a white cane and for me this is hmm-- what is a white cane for me? It's going to be A tier and-- and the beginning of A tier... no... yes.
It's gonna go in front, if I can make it go in front. Okay, there you go. I'm at a point where if I don't have my cane and I'm outside I feel lost. I feel like I'm missing something which I am. And it's really helpful honestly. There are a lot of people who may not like using a cane. Something I struggled with is the perception I had about
other people looking at me and thinking about me. People think less about you than you think. It doesn't really matter if it helps you, I would encourage you to use it. For me I feel more confident with my cane than without my cane. It's easier to ask for help. Really, if they see that I have a cane they know-- sometimes they don't know what that cane means-- but they know that I might have a reason to ask for help. Whereas when I don't have my cane, they're like, "oh why are you asking for help?" So those are like my top three reasons for using a cane but it is not an S tier for me because I always get jabbed in the stomach from it and it's not perfect.
It doesn't detect things at waist height or head height it's not perfect and it's not an S tier. Next is a guide dog and if you have a guide dog don't hate me but I'm going to put the guide dog in D tier, the last one in D tier. Okay, maybe not... let's put it in C tier. In the end of C tier. Yeah I think so it goes somewhere down there. Honestly, I know a lot of people who love having a guide dog. My dad had a guide dog when he was working but it doesn't fit my lifestyle.
I don't want to have to take care of a guide dog. I already have a six-year-old to take care of and I just can't imagine like hanging on to a guide dog and my son and just carrying everything and then having the frustration of ride sharing- that I use all the time- and being denied. Honestly I-- I-- no. Just- it's a no for me. Not at this point of my life. Maybe sometime if I lose more vision. If my son is older. If I need to do a lot more traveling than I do which I mean I don't even do-- I have hardly any traveling-- now maybe I would consider it if all of those factors changed. then maybe I would consider getting a guide dog. They're honestly a lot of work and I am an animal person. I love animals, but I just-- just-- there's just not right now.
no. no. I don't need one. not right now. I'd rather have a pet-- like just give me a pet. All the guide dog users out there are going to disagree with me and I'm sorry go ahead and make your own tier list um and you can put them in S tier if you want but really for me this is my tier list and they go in C- they go in C tier. I'm sorry. Next is low vision products. Bold line paper, markers, things like that. They are very affordable but honestly I don't particularly use them.
I'm going to put them in D tier. I think they can still be really useful. I don't really use them. I love the markers that's probably what I use more than like bold line paper because my phone has taken over everything that these products used to do like large print clocks. Well I have a really large print clock on my phone. Writing-- I can do that on my computer or on my phone and make it even larger. I'm really bad and I can't read my own writing. For me it's going to be a D tier. At
the end of the D tier. it's the least useful for me and I just rather use my phone or my computer. Next we have talking items. Talking watches, Talking Clocks, all those things they are-- they're also going to go in D tier. They're going to be right before the low vision products.
Yup that's we're gonna put them. I used to work at a low vision center and talking watches were a nightmare. Everything was talking everything had it like an every hour chime, everything had an alarm... I don't know it drove me crazy. I just use my phone for all these things sure there are things like
talking scales those are really helpful and I do have a talking kitchen scale but they honestly are just made so cheaply and I really don't like their quality. I use it all the time but it's just not great quality and they can also cost significantly more than something that doesn't talk. Oh the next one are bump dots and other things like that-- like rubber bands and things like that. Oh this is going to go
in-- Hmm this is gonna go I think in A tier. Yeah they are really inexpensive and they help so much with the microwave, with the washing machine, with the dryer like all-- with the treadmill-- things like that. It's so useful to have bump dots even rubber bands and different size rubber bands, certain different number of rubber bands on like medicine they are much faster than pulling out your phone and trying to scan something or pulling out another device and trying to scan something like that. I like some of the very low Tech solutions are the way to go. Next are accessible crosswalks. This is going to probably be C tier for me. I live in North Carolina. I live in a small town in North Carolina that do not
believe in sidewalks. It drives me nuts. I would have these accessible crosswalks and these little bumpy things and trails if I had them. If I had access to them. If I could use them... they would go much higher on the list, but unfortunately, I don't live in a place that I can even use these. I think that if I lived in a pretty big city that had these-- oh they'd probably go in A tier, but for me this is going in C tier because I'm salty that I don't have access to these.
Next one are standalone book players like NLS- the the big player that they give or the blaze ET, EZ, the Victor reader stream, the bookport plus... This is going to go and the end of C tier. They can be pretty pricey but one thing I really do like about them is that it's made for somebody visually impaired and they just have those tactile buttons. And sometimes those are so much better than a touch screen, trying to do gestures like it's so much easier to press a pause button than it is to like unlock your screen and do a two-finger double tap. Oh,
but they're limited because of their affordability and how specialized they are. And if you are the type of person that really likes having those physical keys, they are invaluable but for me personally I just use the phone. I do have a-- what do I have? A blaze e t somewhere floating around in a box or in a drawer or something and I did use it more previously. Especially when I was going to school and in different circumstances I think they can be super helpful. Again like going to school. I used to record lectures and had had my textbooks on there. It was nice. Our last category are apps. So first, audio book apps like Libby and Audible and LibriVox
and uh BARD. I love reading. They make my life so much better. They're going to go in A-- B tier. Audible can get expensive...BARD doesn't always have good narrators. They also don't have like recently published books which I like a lot of. BARD is a great service, don't get me wrong, but it's just gonna go in B tier. It's great for entertainment but it's not that useful overall in other aspects of my life.
Then we have WeZoom. This is going to be an S tier-- at the end of S tier. I have the WeZoom logo but this also goes for magnifier apps on phones like the iPhone magnifier app as well. It's- it's amazing. Technology has gone so far. I use a magnifier all the time and it just helps me do everything all the time, but now I'm so glad that camera technology has gone forward so much that using like a- a magnifier app is better in a lot of cases than a CCTV or portable CCTV. And typically they're free. So compared to a CCTV- which still has its use cases-
free versus two, three, four thousand? I'm gonna go with free definitely. Plus it's always on my phone and I always carry my phone. Next are OCR apps. This is going to be in a tier right after a white cane I think. This includes Google lookout, seeing AI, Envision AI, Super Sense all those apps that use your smartphones camera to look at objects and identify them or read text- take a picture of text and turn it into text that your screen reader can read or that you can read on your phone. They're amazing. They're
so helpful. They're usually free. I mean seeing Ai and Google look at are completely free. There are some paid versions of course. They have helped me so much but I can't put them in S tier because they're not perfect they have not reached their potential. So actually you know what? I think I'm Gonna Keep it in A tier, but I'm gonna put it at at the end of A tier... you know... in the middle of it-- like right after a human. Yeah, that feels good. That feels right. Maybe in a few years this
will change and the algorithms and the technology will get a lot better and we'll be-- we'll have a better experience but overall I think they're great but um they can make really bad mistakes. Next are ride sharing apps. Okay this is going to be in the beginning of B tier. right here. I love ride sharing apps like uber and Lyft. We don't have good bus service here. There's no sidewalks to get to the bus station. Paratransit basically doesn't go anywhere- or almost anywhere. And Paratransit has so many problems like the 40 minute window that it's supposed to be is really more like a two hour window. That's if they come at all. And then
you have to wait on the bus for so long- oh my goodness! Ride sharing is amazing but really pricey and that's why it's going to go in B tier. If it was less expensive I'd probably put it higher... I'm waiting for self-driving cars. If you haven't heard, Waymo has self-driving cars that come to you kind of like a ride sharing, but with no driver and they're doing this in-- where is it? I can't remember where it is? Is it Phoenix? Was it from Phoenix? I can't remember. It's basically open to the public and there was a completely blind person who rode with his guide dog. it was on double tap podcast. It was amazing. I love it. I'm waiting for it to come here but I'm probably going to wait forever, so one day maybe I'll move to a bigger city that has this. I think it's amazing and I can't wait. I can't wait for this technology to move forward. The next one is be my eyes. This is kind of like a person, but it's kind of not it's an app.
So this is going to go- I think it's gonna go in... it's gonna go in the end of B tier for me. Be my eyes is a great app that connects you to a volunteer that can help you through what they see on your smartphone's camera. There are good volunteers, there's not so good volunteers. It's not secure- again- these are volunteers um but it's free. You can also use the specialized help to call NFB and Google and Microsoft and their accessibility teams which I think are great. Actually I'm gonna
move it up in B tier-- probably here-- I'm gonna put it in right after dictation probably... Okay yeah that feels better. I just don't use it all the time because I don't know about you I don't always want a sighted person to help me. I'm gonna kind of try to do it on my own. I would
rather struggle with an OCR app a lot of the times or or an object recognition app then call be my eyes. Sometimes it is more convenient, but it's just feels a little less independent for me. And the last one for today is Aira which is a visual interpreting service. Um this is going to go in C tier. Yeah this is gonna go in C tier. Do I feel...? Yeah it's gonna go in C tier right after the tablet. It's expensive but the service is really great. They are trained agents um there's a lot of capabilities and if you're in an access point, you can call Aira anytime. If you go to Starbucks, you can ask Aira for help.
If you're looking for a job, if you're a small business owner... Intuit sponsors Aira minutes-- I think-- I think if I remember correctly--- it's like 150 minutes per month, 30 minutes per call-- something like that. They recently increased their prices and if I've done a video already I will link that in the video cards and in the description below. Okay oh my goodness! We have finished the tier list! Here it is! I will read it off to you and see if there's anything I need to change.
In S-tier first a smartphone, then computer, then screen reader, screen magnifier, Braille, and WeZoom. In A tier there's a white cane, display accommodations, humans, OCR apps, audio description, and like bump dots and other low-tech Solutions like that. In B tier, we have ride sharing apps, dictation, be my eyes, a standalone CCTV, and audiobook apps. In C tier, I have a tablet, Aira, guide dog, accessible crosswalks, and like those little bumpy thingies on the- on the road, and on the sidewalks I mean, and then standalone book players. In D tier we have wearable technology, Optical magnifiers, talking like devices, and low vision products that are larger. I think I feel pretty good about those rankings. Sometimes I feel like they change depending on the day and depending how frustrated I am with a particular piece of AT, but that I think is my 2022 assistive technology tier list.
I'd love to hear your thoughts, your comments, uh your opinions, your tier lists, yeah that would be awesome! What do you think is the best AT for you? What do you think of my tier list? Do you completely disagree? I'm sure some of you do, especially those guide dog users... I'm so sorry not sorry... If you like this video, give it a like and if you're interested in more technology and accessibility subscribe. Thanks for watching and I'll catch you in the next one!