Apps as assistive products

A smartphone becomes a little helper in your pocket through various apps. Whether for playing, shopping, consulting, remembering or communicating. They provide support in everyday life and can be called up at any time.

App is a short form of Application and stands for "Application". They are programs that are usually called up via mobile devices such as smartphones or tablets. In the pre-installed shop, apps are available for a fee or for free download. Apps can be programmed and updated with very little effort, so this market is very fast moving and growing steadily.

Which apps are available?

A smartphone is already a practical tool for everyday and professional life. But with the right apps it can also meet individual requirements and in some cases replace expensive aids. The range of possible functions is large. You can find an exemplary and non-exhaustive list according to restrictions here:

Apps for people with visual impairment

  • Read out contents on the display (screen reader)
  • Translate and read out photographed documents
  • Scan and describe the environment
  • recognize colors
  • Recognize products by means of a barcode
  • Navigation systems

Apps for people with hearing disabilities

  • Translating the spoken word into writing
  • Record conversations and summarize their content
  • Play back conversations in sign language
  • Record TV program and play it back with Audioscript

Apps for people with communication disabilities

  • Communicating via images
  • Communicate via finished text blocks
  • improve language skills

Apps for people with reduced mobility

  • Navigation via barrier-free paths
  • Collection of barrier-free public places and buildings
  • Toilet Finder

More apps for the workplace

Accessibility of Apps

Currently there are no binding standards for the barrier-free design of apps. However, the operating system manufacturers have published guidelines for the development of apps. The guidelines include requirements for the user interfaces of the apps so that they are accessible to people with disabilities. For example, only common control elements of the respective system should be used in order to make them easier to use.

Health vs. medicine apps

Basically, the types health app and medicine app are to be separated from each other. Health apps help you to pursue a healthier lifestyle. They encourage movement, serve to relax, improve the understanding of one's own body and give advice on nutrition. In addition, there are medicine apps that pursue a medical purpose. They are considered a medical device if they serve the diagnosis and/or therapy of a disease (§3 No. 1 MPG). This includes, for example, apps that help to better deal with a chronic illness.

In practice, however, it is difficult to differentiate the intended purpose.

Cost absorption by the health insurance company

Many health insurance companies offer free health apps of their own accord. These primarily serve a healthy lifestyle, prevention and early detection of illness.

Since 01.01.2020, health apps can also be prescribed on prescription. The corresponding costs are covered by the statutory health insurance. These apps are tested in advance by the Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices (BfArM).

Individual health insurance companies can also cover the costs of other apps. These services must be inquired about individually with the respective health insurance companies.