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Tech Partnerships Seek Greater Mobility for the Disabled

Tech-focused civic partnerships may be one way to unlock greater urban mobility for disabled people. Tools in the works include navigation apps with specialized sound cues and "smart canes" that interact with invisible paint.
March 29, 2018, 11am PDT | Philip Rojc | @PhilipRojc
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Katie Pyzyk covers a few partnership efforts seeking greater mobility for disabled urban residents, the blind in particular. She writes, "Difficulty with obtaining services and getting around a city can cause people with disabilities to not venture out into the world, and consequently, feel isolated. That problem is present enough on its own, but even more so when municipal innovations omit considerations for people with disabilities and make them feel like they can't keep up with the rest of society."

Because cities often don't have the resources to develop tech-based solutions to those problems, partnerships with the private sector and academia can be one way forward. "One targeted innovation for which researchers at Ohio State University seek more partnerships is a road paint that reacts with specially-designed tips on canes for the visually impaired. [...] Smart cane users will get a signal when their device touches the paint, indicating a boundary that could be dangerous to cross."

The city of Tampa is planning to pilot this "smart paint" during the coming months. Other projects involve apps like Microsoft's Soundscape, which uses audio cues to inform the visually impaired about their surroundings.

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Published on Thursday, March 15, 2018 in Smart Cities Dive
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