Commuter's Digest: Your Commuting Companion

The MBTA’s BlindWays App

Posted by Kyle Therese Cranston on Jan 27, 2017 8:31:08 AM



Navigating public transportation can be tricky for the visually impaired. And, while GPS has been a step in the right direction, it’s still hard for blind commuters to find their respective bus stops.

That’s where BlindWays comes in. Learn all about this MBTA app and how it helps visually impaired bus riders get exactly where they need to be.

Blind commuters can only rely on GPS so much. Basically a GPS device can only navigate users to within about “30 feet of the bus stop,” which can be a problem for commuters, especially since most bus stops are located outside. And those of us that use or have used the bus to commute, know that if you’re not standing directly on top of that bus stop, there is a chance that the driver won’t see you and will just keep on going. It’s definitely happened to me before.

So, Boston’s Perkins School for the Blind, the MBTA, and software development company, Raizlabs have all teamed up to create BlindWays, “a smartphone app that enables blind people to find a bus stop on their own.” 

According to the Perkins School for the Blind's website, "BlindWays picks up where GPS leaves off – guiding travelers to within a cane’s distance of the bus stop sign using reliable navigational clues." 

The clues are submitted by volunteers and describe the area directly surrounding the stop, guiding users right to where the bus typically pulls up. BlindWays users can get a feel for the stop's geography and learn where any signs, trash cans, benches, or stoplights are located.  

If you're interested in seeing how the app works, click here to view a detailed video put out by Perkins.

Happy Commuting!


Topics: mbta, commuting mobile apps, mobile aps

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