Tap Tap See. No, Really. Tap Tap *See*

The past few weeks, I’ve noticed people I follow on Twitter being all abuzz about an app called TapTapSee. It’s recently been updated, and they were delighted with the things the app can now do, like help identify subjects in a picture in your iPhone’s library.  Spurred on by the wonderful things people were saying, a fair amount of curiosity, and a desire to know if the app would be appropriate for Peanut, I decided to download it and try it out.

Let me put it simply:  this app is AMAZING.

This is where I put in the disclaimer: I tested TapTapSee as the sighted parent of a blind child.  Peanut’s pretty young (a ripe old 4.5 years at the moment), and he has some vision, so we haven’t explored Bluetooth braille devices yet (aside from realizing OMG THEY’RE EXPENSIVE!) or used many of our devices’ built-in accessibility features, like VoiceOver. If you’re a parent like me, TapTapSee might be challenging for you–Efrit laughed and offered instructions as I struggled to use VoiceOver to navigate to page 5 of the apps on our iPad. I think it would be a breeze for anyone who’s used to VoiceOver, however; once I opened the app itself, it was very easy to use.

What TapTapSee does is use your iPad’s camera and VoiceOver to tell you what you’re “looking” at.  You tap the screen twice, wait a few seconds, and your iPad tells you what it saw.  Hold it up, tap twice, and you get a brief description of what’s in front of you.  The app picks out the major features of what it sees, and it’s pretty clever:  it could figure out “young boy on couch watching television” (it was a bed, but still!), “wooden mirror,” “flat-screen television,” and “man laying on bed.” It had no problem reading the label on my bottle of Original Sarna lotion or identifying $100 and $5 bills. It’s not perfect–it didn’t always catch that a second bill was present, for instance, so you’ll need to use your sense of touch with it–but it’s amazing how useful this could be.

Want to try out TapTapSee?  I think the easiest method might be to use the download button on their Web site:  http://www.taptapseeapp.com/

If you’re going to use the App Store on your device, it’s a bit more complicated. Here’s how I was able to find the app:

  1. Type in “TapTapSee” without spaces.
  2. The store will come up with suggestions for what you’re typing in.  Pick the “taptapsee – blind & visually impaired camera” option.
  3. Scream in frustration when nothing comes up and you know know KNOW the app exists.
  4. Realize sheepishly that it was created for the iPhone, so switch the top setting from “iPad Apps” to “iPhone Apps.”
  5. Download the app.

You will need to turn VoiceOver on to use TapTapSee. To do this on an iPad:

  1. Go to “Settings” and double-click.
  2. Pick “General” in the left frame.
  3. Scroll down in the right frame and tap on “Accessibility”
  4. The top option is VoiceOver. Tap on it.
  5. This opens the VoiceOver menu.  There are tons of options.  Come back and explore them later. Drag the “off” to “on” by VoiceOver.
  6. Your iPad will now talk to you. Let it finish what it’s saying–it will tell you how to accomplish what you’re trying to do (because the way you’ve been using your iPad as a sighted person no longer works!!).

This app alone makes an argument for Peanut having an iPhone when he gets older. (If you know how anti cell-phone I am, you’ll know what a statement that is.) What’s even better about it?  Where so much of the technology our son and other people with vision impairments need costs a small fortune–a ream of braille paper costs $50 from the APH, for Pete’s sake!–TapTapSee is free.

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