Smart Accessibility Awards on Monday

It will be a tense weekend for the dozen finalists in the Vodafone Smart Accessibility Awards. The winners will be announced in a ceremony on Monday.

They are competing for a €200,000 prize looking for applications which will improve the lives of the aging population and those with disabilities.

The award is supported and co-orgainsed by the AGE Platform Europe  the European network of around 160 organisations of and for people aged 50+, and the European Disability Forum (EDF), the NGO that represents the interests of 80 million Europeans with disabilities.

While most of the emphasis on easy use mobile phones has been with basic twelve button phones it’s quite likely that they will become as obsolete as black and white television: which will make it more expensive to produce a simple phone than a smart one. Around a billion phones are sold each year and the economies of scale are an important factor.

The work Vodafone is doing today is a fantastically important step to ensure that if this does happen, those of use with failing eyesight, hearing and other signs of aging – that is to say all of us – are not left behind. The awards fall into four categories, Social participation, Independent living, Mobility and Wellbeing. There are finalists in each of the categories.

Social participation:

refers to applications which help users to become more involved in today’s society and help them benefit from using new technologies, whatever their age and/or capacity.   The aim is to help everyone to access the web and social media through smartphones.

The Finalists are

BIG Launcher by BIG Launcher Team

Biig launcher makes smartphones easier to useBIG Launcher is an android home screen optimized for elderly people and people with eye problems. It uses big buttons and large fonts for all the basic functions of the phone – telephone, SMS messages, camera, gallery, SOS button and installed applications. SOS button allows automatic dialing of a pre-defined number or sending an emergency text message with GPS coordinates. Buttons can be customized.

Voiceye by Forcetenco

Voice eye is a smarter QR codeVoiceye Codes are a version of QR codes, only this code actually stores the information and can hold upto two pages of text. The code is printed on paper documents and when scanned into the smart phone with the FREE App it will display the Text on the phone in a variety of colours and sizes, also TTS will also read the text. Other services with the App allow language translation (Google) of the text, passing of contacts, documents from the history from phone to phone, true paperless society, no errors.

Shhmooze by Shhmooze Ltd

Social networking where you actually meet peopleMillions of professionals attend conferences and meetups to network and make crucial connections that can transform their business or career. Yet most people find networking a nightmare. That’s because networking sucks. Countless business opportunities are lost as attendees spend hours approaching random strangers hoping to stumble into the right person. If networking’s a nightmare for the able-bodied, it’s even tougher for many disabled professionals, who must overcome additional difficulties. That’s why we developed Shhmooze – a networking app designed from the ground up following the “Design for All” principle. Shhmooze is a game changer for the able-bodied as it changes face-to-face networking from a gruelling task into a quick, easy experience. For the visually, hearing or mobility-impaired, Shhmooze is a breakthrough – they use it to network as effectively as their non-disabled counterparts so they access and profit from same opportunities at any event or meetup wherever they are.

Independent living:

refers to applications which help users with everyday tasks such as washing or opening a door easily and safely so that they can live more independently.

The finalists are:

BOARD (Book Of Activities Regardless of Disabilities) by Life Supporting Technologies – Universidad Politecnica de Madrid.

BOARD smart book, an accessible way to perform a set of daily life activities.BOARD provides, using a mobile phone application combined with the BOARD smart book, an accessible way to perform a set of daily life activities. Based on intuitive pictograms, BOARD allows sending messages, making calls, managing the mobile settings and controlling the home environment by placing the phone closer to an image printed on a book. The book displays the actions through pictograms with Braille description, and the mobile app. provides visual and spoken feedback of the actions and performs them. BOARD provides a set of actions that are customizable and limited only by the imagination of the user. BOARD aims at a wide range of users: elderly or users with motor, visual or cognitive disabilities. BOARD is a valuable assistive technology application to improve their autonomy and independent living. BOARD is designed for all, is simple to use and enhances the independency and quality of life of people regardless disabilities.

Money Talks by icmobilelab

Euro note identification with phone cameraMoney Talks uses the phones camera to classify the denomination of a Euro bank note between 5 and 100 Euro. Upon detecting the denomination the Application speaks and vibrates the value of the bank note. The camera view can be turned off to save battery and instructions for use can be read allowed at any time through the app menu.

Zoom Plus magnifier by 232 Studios & Ian Hamilton

zooming andd colour correctingThere is a diverse market of commercial video magnifiers, allowing zoom and realtime colour filters, beneficial not just to low vision but also other conditions such as dyslexia and colour blindness. They cost from £500 – £1500. This is prohibitively expensive for much of the audience who are retired or low income. Anyone with a smartphone already owns a screen and a camera, so we have produced a video magnifier as a free software solution rather than an expensive hardware solution. The app is designed to be as universally accessible as possible, bearing in mind the varying target audiences and high likelihood of multiple conditions. The buttons are larger and higher contrast than the usual Android recommendations, with large simple zoom in / zoom out buttons rather than the complex motor demands of pinching or dragging. There is no reliance on text, with as literal / metaphor-free iconography as possible.


refers to applications which enable users to travel freely and safely whatever kind of transport system they would like to use. It also refers to the use of GPS and locations apps which can help guide people in unfamiliar places.

The finalists are:

Wheelmap by SOZIALHELDEN e.V.

How easy is somewhere to visit when you have wheels?The Android App was launched on October 14, 2011. With this app, anyone can share information about the wheelchair accessibility of public places or getting these information – in any city and in any country. The app contains a map with 3.5 million points of interest (POI). From the point of view of mobility impaired people, any of these POIs has a specific status. grey; – the accessibility status is unknown yet, someone needs to tag that place green; – the location is completely wheelchair friendly yellow; – you can access the location, but not the toilet (if given) red; – the location is not accessible with a wheelchair, e.g. having some steps at the entrance With this easy differentiation, also currently not impaired people can participate and use their Android phone to tag places they just visited.

AlzNav by Fraunhofer Portugal AICOS

helps with people who get disorientated through dementiaAlzNav is a monitoring and navigational application, designed mostly for older adults and persons in initial stages of dementia. It aims to increase their sense of safety when going outdoors and also ease the caregivers’ concerns by reassuring them that they will be alerted if their cared-for gets lost or needs help. By giving users the possibility to be navigated back home when they get disoriented, it increases their mobility. By allowing them to do so autonomously, it increases their autonomy.

Red Panic Button by Ultimate Communication Software LTD

Red Panic Button – The one call that can make a difference! Offering accurate information to those who can help you, the Red Panic Button is basically a user centered Early Warning & Vulnerability Alert System (EWVAS), a one-to-many mode of communication, a uniquely developed mobile phone application that provides users with rapid connection to police, relatives and/or close persons and friends, or the emergency services relevant to their predicament.  The application enables users to push a central button and generate a security alert, activating immediate contact with various emergency services, providing instant details of location, as well as dialing emergency numbers and sending panic messages via a wide range of communication mediums and channels such as: SMS, e-mails and social networks like Facebook & Twitter. In an emergency, information means survival.

And in the last category


which refers to applications which improve the users’ health and overall feeling of wellbeing.

The finalists are:

Help Talk by 1000 Empresas

Application directed at people unable to communicate fluently orally or through writing with health professionals, family or any other person. Based on scientific concepts regarding basic human needs, the software presents a set of well organized commands to address them. When the user taps each of the option, the Text-to-speech engine speaks the respective command. The application may be, in the future, customized or adjusted to a specific user profile with the actions most suited for each disability. The application allows the user, with the simple tap of a button, to send an emergency SMS message to a pre-configured person including the users location. The application also allows the user to receive a remote location request. By sending a simple SMS message, an authorized person may request and receive the users current location.

Telesor – Accessible Communication for All by Fundacion Instituto de Ciencias del Hombre

helps the speech-impaired.Fundacion Instituto de Ciencias del Hombre, have developed an application named Telesor ( Telesor stands as a service aimed at making public administration and corporate phone assistance to clients accessible to deaf people and everyone unable to verbally communicate. Telesor enables these individuals to contact every organization, public or private, that runs our service and so everyday interactions and requests can be solved though text, live and without third-party assistance from a cell-phone at any time and location. Our targeted collective are deaf people and anyone suffering from any kind of speaking diabilities. We designed our service with no other goal than contributing to normalize the situation of these people as they no longer need specific tools or devices different from those a standard citizen uses. We therefore believe that Telesor decisively contributes to improve their relationship with our society, allowing them full-independence in their day to day.

AreYouOK by Valis Interactive

AreYouOK is an app that provides a free alternative to expensive electronic personal alarm button systems. Preventing the elderly / less-abled from suffering alone for hours, sometimes days, should they have a fall or otherwise become immobile. Once set up, the app simply flashes up a screen (vibrating and ringing) asking if the user is OK every so often throughout the day, for example every 5 hours, and it turns off overnight (the timings are configurable). If they don’t press YES or NO within 20 minutes it alerts chosen friends and family by sending a text message (SMS) so that they can call or check in to make sure all is well. It’s a low-tech but possibly life-saving solution that costs no more than a normal SMS. The app also has an option to send for help at any time, or let everyone know you are actually OK should you miss the alarm. In future there are many additions such as allowing friends/family to administer remotely, or building a version for lone-workers such as G4S security staff.