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Navigational Apps for the Blind Could Have a Broader Appeal

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Many of these apps are based on existing, open-source mapping data that anyone can change, potentially introducing inaccuracies. Others use crowdsourced information, and so would have to contend with the same issue.

Credit: Matt Williams

Nearly every blind person has at least one story of getting lost or disoriented.

Despite the use of walking canes, guide dogs, help from strangers, and popular navigational apps like Google Maps, Clark Rachfal, director of advocacy and governmental affairs for the American Council of the Blind, said losing your way is still a huge issue for many blind and low vision people. Simply hearing directions from an app like "in 500 feet turn right," often isn't enough information to guarantee independence and safety.

"We travel our familiar routes because we know the path is accessible and we know our familiar landmarks," he said.

That may change, though, with the release of new apps specifically designed with pedestrians and accessibility in mind. Thanks to improvements in mapping technology and smartphone cameras, a number have emerged with features like indoor navigation, detailed descriptions of the surrounding environment and more warnings about obstacles.

From The New York Times
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