Assistive Technology: SeeingAI (iOS App)

Image source: Vision Ireland

SeeingAI is a mobile application developed by Microsoft for iOS, later expanding to Android devices as well. It is designed to help people with visual impairments identify objects and people in their surroundings using their phone camera, by audibly describing them to users.

Home screen of app with features indicated through icons

How does it work?

This app uses voice features available on devices in combination with their camera to help users in the following ways:

  • It helps identify people by describing their visual characteristics and their distance from the user, along with estimates of their gender, age and emotion. It also saves their faces to aid future recognition.
  • It can read short text and documents as soon as they appear in front of the camera.
App screen while on text mode
  • It reads currency notes and describes their value to the user.
  • It can describe scenes in the surroundings using AI.
App screen when a scene is being described
  • It can identify the prices of different products by reading their barcodes.
  • Lastly, it can identify colors in the environment and can indicate the amount of light present through a tone that changes according to the brightness of the environment.

How accessible is it?

The apps accessibility is evident in accordance with the following parameters:


This app finds a solution for visual impairment by treating it as a medical condition, which aligns with the medical model of disability. It also uses technology to find a practical way for people with visual impairments to function without difficulty, which aligns with the functional model of disability. It also aligns with the biopsychosocial model of disability, since it combines a solution to a medical condition with the ability of the user to participate in society.


The way the use of this app has been designed aligns with the social model of disability since it allows people to interact with their surroundings without any stigma associated with their disability. It also overcomes one of the weaknesses of the medical model in terms of usability, in that there is no need for users to prove their disability to be able to use this application. The application is designed for use by anyone who feels the need for visual assistance irrespective of external or professional validation.


This app allows people with visual impairments to interact with their surroundings and carry out their tasks with minimal assistance from others. This can provide them with a feeling of independence and self-confidence, positive emotions that can increase their affinity for the product. This aligns with the social model of disability.

Accessibility and Affordability:

Initially created for the iOS system, Microsoft recently released a version compatible with Androids as well. Additionally, the app is compatible with earlier versions of the iPhone, going all the way back to the iOS 11 released in 2017 and Marshmallow 6.0 released in 2015. This allows people to access the product without needing the latest devices, enabling access to the app for a larger chunk of the population. Apart from this, the app is available in 18 languages, which will soon be expanded to 36. This will erase obstacles posed by language and allow people from diverse backgrounds to access the app comfortably.

In terms of affordability, the app is free for download and use. The features available are free to use infinitely, without the introduction of any further paywalls. This removes a major financial obstacle for many, allowing them to benefit from the help that this app offers without having to pay for it. This also aligns with the social model of disability in that it reiterates the fact that the ability to participate in society is a basic human right that does not need to be paid for.


With this post, it is evident that SeeingAI is an assistive technology that is accessible according to a variety of parameters.Technologies like this are helping people with visual impairments function more effortlessly and independently without any learning curves, and so many of these technologies are available for free, which allows more people to experience them. With advancements in technology, there is hope that more such tools will surface, allowing people with visual impairments to live independently and reduce any stigma or misconceptions  surrounding their capabilities and potential.