The Smartphone Revolution: Accessible to all

This morning we have had a press release from Vodafone detailing the winners in a recent awards ceremony. They have awarded four developers of apps with a share of £200,000.  Currently 3 out the 4 apps are available on the Android Market. Help Talk is not yet on the Market. It is good to see companies such as Vodafone pushing awards like this and not just pushing Android onto techies.

The Vodafone Foundation partnered with AGE Platform Europe and the European Disability Forum (EDF) to devise and deliver the Smart Accessibility Awards:  an international competition which rewards developers who have the creativity, vision and social commitment to harness the power of smartphones and the mobile internet in support of disabled and older people’s needs. 

The winning smartphone apps whose developers will share the €200,000 prize fund are: 

Help Talk (Wellbeing category)

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 (Mobility category)

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 (Independent living category)

Zoom Plus Magnifier app 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 (Social participation category)

BIG Launcher is an alternative customisable Android homescreen, 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. 

Vittorio Colao, Vodafone Group CEO said, “Vodafone is committed to doing all we can to empower consumers of all ages and abilities: we want to extend the smartphone revolution to as many communities as possible.”

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.” 

Winning applications will be available to Vodafone customers using Android smartphones. 

For more information about the awards or mobile accessibility, visit  or