The must have accessible apps for blind android users

by Jeffrey Stark

December 9th, 2012

Just new to android or looking for a few new apps for your phone? Below, I have put together a list of the 30 apps I use the most or find I miss when I'm on another device. How about you, what are your must have android apps? Please leave your favourite accessible android apps in the comments below.

  1. Plume for twitter– A fully featured twitter client for keeping up with my peeps
  2. Canadian Weather– Got to know what the weather is going to be like before you leave the house. This app has a ton of information and a great widget
  3. Audible– Need access to my audible books for the long bus trip in to work
  4. Quick Calendar– See where I am going and what's on the agenda for the day with a quick look at my notification area
  5. Lookout Security & Anti Virus– Anti Virus and other featurs including a Great phone recovery system
  6. Talking Location– Verbally lets me know where I am with periodic announcements of nearest addresses andstreet names
  7. Text Talk— This app is optimised for dictating text
  8. Smart Audio Book Player– Set a folder for your audio books and smart audio book player will keep track of where you were last in the book, new books and even allow you to speed up the audio when listeing to books
  9. Tune-In Radio– The king of streaming radio apps
  10. Deadbeef Player– play music how you want to and the formats you want to play
  11. Walkie Talkie– great gps navigation app
  12. IDEAL Web Reader– one of several accessible web browsers
  13. Nova Launcher– way better desktop than the stock 1 that comes with android
  14. Easy aUninstaller– uninstall multiple apps at once
  15. Zello– Multiplatform walky talky app with group audio chat
  16. Sticher– News, Radio and podcasts
  17. Talking Compass– Figure out which way you are pointed
  18. Look Ahead Locator
  19. Scanner Radio– Listen in on police, fire, air traffic controller and other scanner audio from around the world
  20. I Blink Radio– Great app from the Serotek crew. lists many blindness related audio content.
  21. BS Plaer– Plays videos and handles even corrupted files fairly well
  22. Genieor Voice Actions Plus– Great app that works like siri. Ask it questions, get it to look up information or call someone (and much more)
  23. DogCatcher Podcast Podcatcher– best podcatcher around and allows you to play podcasts at faster speeds
  24. ePistol– Note taking app that stores it's files in dropbox in .txt format
  25. The Weather Network– Get weather conditions for many locations
  26. Google Drive– Store content, share content and access material in the cloud.
  27. DropBox– Got to be able to access my dropbox storage and an easy way to transfer apk files to the phone. Pair this with e-Pistol and you have a great note taking solution.
  28. Skype– Make audio calls from your phone
  29. IM+– Connect to any and all instant messaging platforms in 1 app
  30. Lightflow LED & Sound Control– set custom sounds, vibration alerts, vibration patterns and LED patterns/colors for all the different notifications you recieve.

So now it’s your turn, what do you use or find useful? Leave your favourite screen reader accessible android apps in the comments below.

Update: Since writing this article, I have added 2 new applications to my toolbox. Both of which are extremely compelling in my oppinion.

  • Scanthing OCR which is an extremely useful OCR application with complete talkback support. Use it to take a photo of menus, reciepts or other printed material and have it read back to you
  • AquaMail is a fantastic email client that supports multiple email accounts. I have completely switched over to this from the native gmail app. It supports reading mail, your mail list and the actual email using white text and a black background.


  1. Posted December 12, 2012 at 10:32 am

    one app I am not sure if you know about, that I find even better than nova is Apex launcher.  green power is also very useful, and better than juice defender for accessibility.  ES file explorer is nice, especally because you can have it act as an ftp server to transfer files between computer, and phone.  these are just a few that I can think of off the top of my head.

  2. Posted December 12, 2012 at 4:46 pm

    Thanks, keep them coming.   Last time i looked at Apex, it had buttons that were not labelled; if this is no longer the case, that would be fantastic.  

  3. Posted December 15, 2012 at 3:22 pm

    Checked out apex, and still has a few deficiencies.  My main issue is that the main interface does  not notify of scrolling with audio feedback when scrolling from page to page.  Nor does it announce the current page or item on my phone.   There also appears to be a lot of unlabelled buttons once you get into trying to  customise the interfaice.  However, with that said, it’s a slick and clean interface.  I personally will stick with Nova Launcher

    Now, on the other hand I have switched to Green Power and even bought the premium version because I found it was superior to Juice Defender   Thanks a ton for the suggestion.

  4. Dave
    Posted December 17, 2012 at 9:51 am

    I use Darwin Wallet for money identification, worked out great on a recent trip.

    I also use an app called UpSoundDown which allows me to use my speaker phone without having to touch anything.

    I am looking for an OCR app that’ll do computer screen scanning, if you find one I’d definitely like to know.

  5. Posted December 17, 2012 at 11:28 am

    sorry about the apex thing. I know when I had an ICS phone, I really didn’t have issues with it for the adjustments I wanted to make to it.  if you listen to the podcast I did about it, on the phone I had at the time, it did tell me what screen I was on, but maybe that can vary phone to phone.  upsounddown is a very good program, and seems to work on most phones. another good internet radio app would be resco.  I like the author, as when the program wasn’t very accessible, I did email them about it, and 2 weeks later, they made all the buttons to wair you could errow to them.  for audio recording, I love Hi-q mp3 recorder. works great, and is very accessible, and has worked on every phone I have used it on. once I can get a better phone that is better than the Kyocera Malano that I am using now, I will work on suggesting more apps. this phone is just down right offle.

  6. dennis Long
    Posted December 17, 2012 at 11:30 am

    scan thing

  7. John J Herzog
    Posted December 17, 2012 at 1:22 pm

    I use Google Goggles on my phone. It is great for identifying objects such as food cans and boxes. It’s particularly nice because you don’t need to scan the bar codes of items. You just point your phone’s camera at things and Goggles will identify them in real time. Talkback reads the results to you as they’re found. In a pinch Goggles can also perform OCR and the text of the document is fully readable.

    Another app I’d recommend is iHeart radio even though the latest versions have accessibility problems. My main reason for mentioning this app is that it is your only choice for listening to a fair number of radio stations that have no available feeds on other programs.

  8. Sally Joyce K.
    Posted December 17, 2012 at 1:58 pm

    Hello, I’ve had great luck with Runkeeper as a fitness app. I have also tried Nike+ but found the interface horribly inaccessible even under ICS. 



  9. David
    Posted December 17, 2012 at 2:25 pm

    One of the apps I depend on is atandt mobile accessibility from code factory

  10. shushant bendre
    Posted December 21, 2012 at 6:39 am

    hello i find the app non as alll in one tool .it  it is use for to cleane the internal and the memory card  and i find it is accessable with talkback also. if their is any other app for to clean it so mention here. and one nore thing  how to transfare the inbound message to the memory card .


  11. Posted December 25, 2012 at 4:15 pm

    what about avona

  12. Posted April 20, 2013 at 6:33 am

    I think ivona is great; especially if you speak non-english languages where google or acapela doesn’t have a voice availble for those languages.  I’ve found the new google tts engine very good and if you have a real meaty processor, acapela works really well for TTS.


  13. Sam
    Posted January 9, 2013 at 2:23 pm

    If you are a member of Bookshare there is a great Android app called ‘Go Read’ for accessing and reading your downloaded books. Its free compared to the one on iOS

  14. Dan Mathis
    Posted January 28, 2013 at 3:27 pm

    Scanthing is a great app but requires a internet connection but ABB Text Grabber is just as good as scanthing with out the need for internet connection.  In some test I did I found that ABB Text Grabber worked better then scanthing.

  15. Posted January 29, 2013 at 4:53 pm

    Could you share some of your tricks or process for using Abbyy Text Grabber with Talkback ?  I just purchased it from the app store and it appears to have many unlabelled buttons.  With a cursory inspection, I couldn’t figure out how to use it.


  16. Dan Mathis
    Posted February 1, 2013 at 9:54 am

    Okay A,B,B Text Grabber has two buttons, the top one is for your device camra and the second one is for your galary.  You want to double tap the top one, wait for the camra and find your shutter button if your phone does not have a physical camra button.  Second, double tap shutter wait for the picture to be taken and then find save close to the bottom of your screen.  Third,  after your done with the camra your going to be dropped into A,B,B Text grabber with a few options: navagate up, crop and read.  To start OCR tap read and wait for it to start OCRing the document.  If no text is found the app will say “no text found”.  Hope this helps someone who wants to try this app.

  17. Posted April 17, 2013 at 5:46 pm

    The best choice to chat is zello, android, ios, pc

  18. vinod benjamin
    Posted April 20, 2013 at 8:58 am

    this is a great thred for me and very useful info for me and i had just bought micromax hd canvas A116 , were the phone dialer is not having the number labeled , so kindly let me know any accessible dialer ? i had try using talking dialer ,however i am finding diffecult . so request your help for the same.

  19. Posted May 23, 2013 at 8:51 pm


    ExDialer & Contacts is a great contact manager that displays contacts in the same form as the “people app” but with a choice of themes, including a black background with high contrasting colors .

    99% of buttons are labelled  and the app works in a very straight forward fashion.

  20. vinod benjamin
    Posted April 20, 2013 at 9:12 am

    it would be great if any of you could help me in labling a butten with talkback or speel.

  21. Posted May 23, 2013 at 8:48 pm

    I believe this can only be done in spiel.  Although I haven’t used it since a much older version of android.  


  22. Posted April 29, 2013 at 7:58 am

    Hi,  I like the andr-ocr app for scanning.  They have been good to us with talkback improvements and it’s nice to have the processing done all on the phone.  I have also been testing the my gluco health diabetes management system which works great on android.  I don’t have a need for this myself, but I have clients who do.  One of the vendors who I seem to recall you aren’t particularly fond of Jeff, is working very hard to get it funded in various parts of Canada.  Then there is brltty which I have just recently discovered.  It even supports usb only displays if bluetooth doesn’t intrigue you for some reason.

  23. Juan
    Posted May 23, 2013 at 12:42 pm

    thanks for your very informative posts.
    I wanted to ask you if there is a way to subscribe to your blog via email? meaning so that I can receive an email whenever you post something?

  24. Posted May 23, 2013 at 8:46 pm

    Thanks and great idea.

    I will install a plug in to my blog so you can do this.

  25. Dacia
    Posted June 22, 2013 at 5:23 pm

    Hi, I’m looking for an accessible camera app that will also allow me to navigate through my pictures after I take them and send them or upload them to Facebook.  I know IOS has tap tap see but does Android have anything similar.  I also like Darwin Wallet.  I use AT&T Mobile Accessibility from Code Factory so the apps need to work with it.  Does anyone who uses Ideal Web reader use AT&T Mobile Accessibility as well?

  26. Posted June 22, 2013 at 8:01 pm

    I’ve used The built in camera app for android  and had a great deal of success.  Pictures are stored in the file system of the phone.  So you can use any accessible file browser to manage pictures.  I myself use Total Commander, a very fantastic file manager. 

    I have not used mobile accessibility in years as I’ve found Talkback to provide a better experience.  If you want the shell that you get with MA, try equal eyes.

    I use firefox as a browser.  The “nightly alphas” are fantastic.

    Tap Tap See is coming to Android in future, it is my understanding that the developers have started work on an android version.

    Hope this points you in the right direction.

  27. Libor
    Posted July 2, 2013 at 1:32 am

    Hi, you may find worthy to explore and try a new navigation app for Android, published on GooglePlay as DotWalker. Features dot by dot travel, announces distance and direction. Includes compass, can record route, add voice descriptions, just for example. I invite any comments and suggestions for further functions or usability.

  28. Dave602
    Posted July 4, 2013 at 7:08 am



    Thinking about finally getting an Android phone, but something that’s bugged me about switching is being able to navigate customer service interactive menus that require you to press a button while you’re on the phone.  Is there an app to allow this from the touch screen or does this work with an external keyboard or phone including a sliding physical QWERTY keyboard using the dedicated number row?  Really, this is my last hesitation to take the plunge so if someone could help, thanks.

  29. Posted September 2, 2013 at 4:31 pm

    You can bring up the dialpad when dialing a # and after dialing that number in order to navigate the automated phone systems.   When you move the phone away from your head the proximity sensor will trigger the display of a button that will allow you to bring up the keypad.

    I would also imagine that a physical keyboard would also allow you to do this.


  30. adlgpy
    Posted July 5, 2013 at 6:27 am


    There is a great app for visually impaired called Shake which can trigger various actions when phone is shaken

    Click here to download it

  31. Ray
    Posted July 27, 2013 at 11:49 pm

    i find the voice on mobile accessibility better to listen to and the explore by touch function on talk back really slow on my galaxy s3, but may return to it to explore.  However we need to email google maps to get them to incorperate more voice input in to their gps service

  32. Posted September 2, 2013 at 4:25 pm

    I highly recommend you check out Nearby Explorer from APH, best money you will ever spend on a GPS app.


  33. tom reid
    Posted August 21, 2013 at 4:07 am

    Really useful stuff. Thanks. Any updates on gps and navigation apps would be great. keep this up. Tom

  34. Patricia
    Posted September 1, 2013 at 9:03 pm

    I am frustrated with the recent update to google maps. I use the navigation system regularly, but can no longerr access this feature. Any suggestions or alternatives? Other aps I use regularly, the Ideal money Identifier and  my local transit companies transit ap.

  35. Posted September 2, 2013 at 4:17 pm

    Personally, I would grab Nearby Explorer from APH, it’s the best money you will ever spend.  It’s by far the superior GPS solution on any platform to date.


  36. rishi
    Posted January 15, 2014 at 8:46 am

    I use waze locater app. it’s the best I’ve seen. gives you traphic reports, day/night mode, and all sorts of other stuff. you can also chat with your friends as well as other stuff..

  37. staja
    Posted March 11, 2014 at 5:28 pm

    hi there, is there a good color identifier app, i’ve been looking for one, i tried color ID free, but that doesn’t seem to work very well? thanks

  38. Posted April 1, 2014 at 9:09 pm

    try color detective –

    it kind of depends on lighting and camera quality but the app seems to work reliably

  39. Posted April 22, 2014 at 11:28 am

    Nice blog here! Also your web site loads up fast!
    What host are you using? Can I get your affiliate link to your host?
    I wish my site loaded up as quickly as yours lol

  40. Posted April 27, 2014 at 11:05 am

    i’ve been with ixhosting for years

  41. Maggie Mae
    Posted May 12, 2014 at 3:57 pm

    Any apps for downloading and listening to music? All the ones that I have tried, were not blind friendly.

  42. Matt
    Posted June 2, 2014 at 8:42 pm

    Love Nearby Explorer but since I had to get a new phone that only has 8gb, it won’t install the maps because it says I don’t have enough space even though I’ve put in a 32gb sd card. Nearby Explorer doesn’t seem to recognize the card. Any ideas? Love the program and want to use it.

  43. Posted June 5, 2014 at 5:39 am

    If you go to APH’s website, there is a mailing list for Nearby Explorer.  I have worked with the devs on there to get other bugs fixed.  This 1 would probably be pretty straightforward.

    Discusses Nearby Explorer, the Android GPS app for blind users.

  44. neo anderson
    Posted June 5, 2014 at 2:34 am

    anyone know of a good file explorer or file manager for the new version of kitcat that came out? or can i still reliabley use es exploere? last version i found on googla play asys it’s for cupcake? blast the luck.  any advice would be apreshated. thanks. neo

  45. Posted June 5, 2014 at 5:42 am

    I swear by Total Commander, it rocks on so many levels….


  46. Michael HoffmanMichael Hoffman
    Posted August 26, 2014 at 9:42 am

    Also, Does talk back have any other voices? if I have to buy them are they expensive? feel free to email me or whatever..

  47. Posted August 27, 2014 at 7:56 am

    Talkback can use any text to speech engine installed in the operating system. This means you can choose from PICO, Google TTS, eSpeak, Eloquence, Acapela, Ivona to name a few. Some work better than others. Some are free and some cost per voice.

  48. Shannon
    Posted September 24, 2015 at 3:04 pm

    I really like Taptap see.

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