Using the BlindSquare App for Accessible Navigation
The University of Guelph is leading the way in accessibility by being the first University in the world to fully implement the BlindSquare GPS-App for people who are blind and visually impaired. The app helps students find their way around the campus. The app is now in many of the high traffic areas and in under five years the university plans on installing the system through the whole campus.
BlindSquare runs on iPhones and iPads and supports many languages. It uses beacons placed around the campus to communicate with the app on the user’s phone. Audio voicing helps users in many ways, such as:
- Letting them know where they are on the campus
- Alerting them of corridors, elevators, and stairways
- Giving directions
- Providing QR codes which give additional information about specific locations
Not Just for People Who are Visually Impaired
In addition to helping people who are blind or visually impaired, the BlindSquare app supports Braille displays so people who are deafblind can use it as well. When the Braille Display feature is turned on, BlindSquare will display the spoken word as text. The user can read the text on the Braille Display.
The BlindSquare app is useful not only for those students who are visually or hearing impaired but for anyone who is new to the campus and needs help getting around.
Useful Off Campus
The app can also help users off campus. It works with the Open Street map and Foursquare apps to get information about where the user is. It can find places like the closest coffee shop or most popular bookstore in the area. Depending on the amount of information Foursquare has on the location, the user will be able to get location information, such as the:
- Phone number
- Social Media feeds
- Menu (if at a restaurant)
- Distance and directions
Last year, the University of Guelph had over 24 students who were visually impaired. The University hopes that the app will become a factor when students who are visually or hearing impaired decide where they want to attend school. BlindSquare is another step towards making the campus a better, safer, and more inclusive place for everyone.