People with sight-loss all around the world suffer from isolation, depression and poverty. What if the solution could be in your pocket: A mobile phone.
Wayfindr, an organisation in the UK, has created an incredible system, that allows people with limited sight to navigate through some of the most complicated public spaces imaginable. The innovative system uses mobile tech, blue-tooth beacons and audio instructions to help direct people though venues like train stations. It guides them from the entrance, down to the platform and onto the right train. It’s a scheme that could work in airports, shopping centres and hospitals.
Empowering people with vision impairments
Now, Wayfindr wants to create a global standard for their wayfinding technology. This has the potential to set free the estimated 285 million people globally (2 million in the UK), who suffer from vision impairments. It will allow them the travel independently, to visit family or to work.
The hope is that this standard will be adopted by organisations using wayfinding technology like Google Maps and other apps.
Initially, Wayfindr was building and testing audio-navigation technology for train stations in the UK, but realised early on they needed to think big, and they needed to think global.
Trialling wayfinding technology around the world
Winners of our Accessibility Award in 2016, Wayfindr is a joint venture between charity The Royal Society for Blind Children (RSBC) and digital product studio, ustwo. Now, it has an active community with many more world-wide partners and experts on-board, all working towards the global standard.
The first tests took place on the London Underground, but if this not-for-profit has its way, transport systems and cities around the world could be transformed. They’ve already done trials in Sydney.
Can you help?
In May, they published the first working draft of their ‘Open Standard.’ Wayfindr is asking global organisations, researchers and individuals to let them know what they think. It’s open to the public, so if you feel you might have something to add, get in touch.
Although the system has been designed to empower people who are vision impaired, it will help many more people. Those who suffer from anxiety, or are nervous traveling, will benefit from this stress-reducing technology.
It’s not the first system to use audio navigations but it’s the first to try and create a global standard with the vision impaired in mind.
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