What Can Cities Do to Be More Accessible for People Affected by Visual Impairments?

Cities can be daunting places for us all. Confusion can creep out even while simply walking along a bustling street. You could be lost in a sea of pedestrians especially when you get surrounded by vehicles blaring their horns and the most puzzling is trying to find your way from A to B in what could be your first visit to the city.

Now imagine you’re living with blindness or impaired vision. How much more intimidating do you think navigating could be then? Accessibility is crucial to make urban environments more welcoming and comfortable for those affected by sight loss. Advancing technology equips innovators with the means to realize cutting-edge ideas that become amazing solutions.

Making Cities More Accessible

Certain features in cities already provide those affected by blindness or impaired vision with a better experience. For example, crossing points with sound alerts inform pedestrians when to step out into roads safely. But another problem is navigation. How can people find their way around busy cities if they can’t see street signs or maps? This is the problem when you’re in a hurry and don’t have time to keep stopping to ask for assistance.

GPS has transformed the way by which people living with blindness or visual impairments find their way around urban locations. This technology is available on almost any smartphone today, usually with audio directions to help keep you on track.  GPS is incredibly effective in improving the daily life of anyone living with sight-related problems: inputting your start and end locations is simple, while the audio assistance is (often) reliable. Native accessibility features in smartphones enhance their performance for those whose limited vision can be an obstacle to using screens too.

However, there is a limitation with GPS –  it only works outdoors. While this is not a problem if you rely on it for navigating the streets anyway but it can leave you feeling vulnerable when you enter an unfamiliar structure.  Let’s say you’re visiting a friend living in an apartment block for the first time, or checking out a new shopping mall. Both types of buildings are typically large, consisting of multiple floors, stairways, and corridors. If you’re alone, finding your way around may be difficult — and even upsetting in some cases.

While you could ask a friend or relative to accompany you, this can affect your sense of independence. Right Hear is a cutting-edge indoor orientation solution designed to help you find your way in interior environments, via your smartphone, without needing to rely on anyone else.

How? It’s an app that works with sensors installed in structures of any size. When the user enters the said premises, they’ll receive audio directions to lead them to their destination, and convey information on what lies ahead and surrounds them.  As a result, RightHear makes wayfinding indoors much safer that is the risk of colliding with barriers, walls or obstructions is reduced significantly.

Combined with standard GPS, RightHear’s indoor orientation solution helps to make cities much more accessible for people living with visual impairments or blindness. They will enjoy more independence, more freedom, and more convenience to explore cities on their own terms.