Should audible wayfinding be free?

should audible wayfinding be free_ - banner of white letters on a black background

At RightHear, we like to think about our solution as an “Audible Ramp”, because just like the physical ramp allows wheelchairs users to access spaces and be independent in them, similarly, RightHear does the same thing but for persons with orientation challenges, including people who are blind and visually impaired.

If we’ll continue with this analogy for a second, I’d like to ask you a quick question: Have you ever heard about a wheelchair user that asked to pay to use a ramp? Or an elevator? 
– I’m pretty sure the answer is no. 

At RightHear, when we say universal access, we mean universal access. 

Our technology removes physical barriers to access. But that’s not enough – we also want to remove financial barriers to access. This is why our app on iOS and Android is 100% free to users today, and always. This is our pledge and it reflects our commitment to Universal Access as a core value in everything we do.

But why is this so important? 
This is important for the blind and visually impaired community. 

As we continuously orient our development towards the community of blind and partially sighted people that we serve, we know that being able to navigate independently using a wayfinding app that is free matters to you.

How do we know this?

We recently conducted an online survey where we asked how important it is to be able to navigate indoor locations independently (i.e. without somebody helping in person or remotely) and at no cost to you. 

 Of the 146 responses received to date, 69% of you said that independent navigation was important to you and that wayfinding apps should be free.  

 Only 26% of respondents said that independent navigation was important to you but we’re happy to pay for wayfinding apps. 

 The remaining 5% of respondents said independent navigation was not important and that you were happy to rely on somebody helping you with wayfinding either in-person or remotely.

An infographic of white letters on a black background. The text reads Should audible wayfinding be free? below there are the statistics that described in the blog post. At the bottom there is the RightHear logo in white.

If our app is free for users, then who pays?

Our growing network of accessible locations is funded by the store owners, employers, municipalities, and social impact investors who share our commitment to making the rights of persons with disabilities enshrined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) a reality.

According to Article 19 of the Convention, the rights of persons with disabilities are violated when “the burden is placed on people with disabilities to fit into public services and structures rather than these services and structures being designed to accommodate the diversity of the human condition. 

By funding our growing network of accessible locations, our partners demonstrate their commitment to the goals of full inclusion and participation in society for people with disabilities.

If you are an accessibility leader, a venue owner, or just an individual that believes in the change that RightHear is making in the world – please contact us, and let’s identify ways we can work together to promote a barrier-free world for everyone.

I’d like to thank BW for his guidance and advice during our research,
and also to Ron Segev who helped me put everything down to a blog post.  🙏