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Ask Engadget: What are the best apps and tools for the blind?

Dana Wollman

Dana Wollman
Executive Editor

Howdy folks, it me: your friendly neighborhood Engadget editor. This week’s question is a personal one. My father suddenly lost much of his vision recently. (He has been a total trooper.) Driving is of course out of the question, but he’s otherwise exploring various apps, settings and tech tools that can help him carry on with his everyday life as a retired man: reading, completing puzzles, sending and receiving messages, making phone calls, and what have you. He’s making progress every day, but the learning curve has been steep for him — and also me (his fully sighted IT support).

So far, I’ve introduced him to Google Assistant on his aging Android phone, and Cortana on his Windows 10 laptop. We’ve taken a trip through the accessibility menus of both operating systems. He has learned to use Uber and Lyft since he can’t drive anymore. Now I turn my attention to the hive mind. I’m wondering what those of you who are blind or have low vision are doing to make your lives easier. What apps, tools, gadgets and settings work for you? And do you find that any one operating system does an especially good job accommodating you?

(A realistic note on operating systems: Though we’ll soon replace my dad’s outdated handset with either an iPhone or newer Android phone, we only just bought him a new Windows laptop two months before his vision loss, which means we won’t be upgrading to a Mac or fancier Windows Hello machine anytime soon.)

Got tips? Leave ’em in the comments!

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