The winners of the inaugural Vodafone Foundation Smart Accessibility Awards have been announced at a ceremony attended by Neelie Kroes, the European Commissioner for Digital Agenda. The competition was launched earlier this year in partnership with AGE Platform Europe and the European Disability Forum. Its aim was to reward developers who’d used the power of smartphones and the mobile internet to support the needs of disabled and older people.
A prize fund of €200,000 (£171,000) is being shared between the developers of the following apps:
Help Talk is designed for people who are unable to communicate by speech, whether permanently or temporarily, such as those recovering from strokes. The application presents a set of commands represented by icons which when tapped ‘speak’ the basic need or desire - such as ‘I’m thirsty’ or ‘I feel pain’ - and goes on to allow the user to provide further detail in the same way.
Wheelmap helps people with impaired mobility who may literally face obstacles as they go about their everyday life. Crowdsourcing lets users of the application rate and review the accessibility for wheelchair users of public places including cafes, museums, hotels and shops. In one month 1200 users registered for the app and 180,000 places were reviewed.
Zoom Plus Magnifier allows people with visual disabilities - including colour blindness and long or short-sightedness, as well as some forms of dyslexia - to easily read text by applying a magnifier, sharpening the focus, or adjusting font and background colours.
BIG Launcher is an alternative customisable Android home screen for elderly or visually impaired users who often struggle to use the small keyboards on most devices. It uses big buttons and large fonts to represent all the basic functions of the phone: telephone, SMS messages, camera, gallery, SOS button and installed apps.
Neelie Kroes, European Commissioner for Digital Agenda, said “We need relevant smartphone apps for all our communities. I congratulate the winners of the Smart Accessibility Awards and the Vodafone Foundation for helping bring the benefits of smartphones to all Europeans. Everyone can gain from the digital revolution.”
The winning applications will be available to Vodafone customers using Android smartphones.