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CREATING A MOBILITY APP FOR BLIND PEOPLE

Posted Apr 11 2011 9:33am
There has been a good deal of research about what most or many people carry around with them. Keys, money and the mobile phone come top of the list. But we blind people are expected to carry a reading aid, a GPS navigation system, a guide dog, a white cane, a computer and a braille display as well. And each bit of kit costs us an arm and a leg too. And if you have a bit of sight like me, well a magnifier comes in useful as well. . So to cut down the load and lighten the wallet as well, we have been working on creating a mobile app which already works pretty well on an Android phone and will sell for just a few quid. In the not too distant future, there will be an iPhone version too.

It tells you where you are and your direction whether you are still or walking. It reminds you of your nearest landmarks, (points of interest) but it is not about road names, house numbers and all the things that Google maps or the Sendero or TomTom systems give you already. Our map is designed to give you that precious personal meaningful information which you need as well as the mainstream stuff. So what happens?

On the first journey, you walk with a seeing mate. As you pass and agree meaningful landmarks, you speak them into your phone. Without pressing another button, you hear what you have recorded and that landmark is now in the system. We have odd things like ‘dog bin’ ‘Trevor’s Lane’ and ‘hump’ and we know what these words mean to us.
When you later pass by on the same route, your landmarks are spoken to you along with an indication of their direction and gestimated distance . At any time you can interrogate the clever little beast and it will tell you your first, second, third fourth or fifth nearest landmark, depending on which key you press.

The whole thing has been especially designed with big on-screen buttons and, if you have a little bit of sight, you can choose the colours .
Oh, and incidentally, it is a great little talking phone anyway with the same clear buttons, easy use and a bit of easy texting thrown in too.

We enjoy what we do at Screenreader.net but if you want to know more detail about this smart phone venture, well, you will just have to wait a month or two until it is ready for trial and release. In time, we will add lots more easy to use features so that in the end you and me might just be carrying around one smart phone with many low cost functions.
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