Making Trip Planning Easier for Vision-Impaired Transit Riders

The app provides navigation using audio and haptic cues to improve accessibility for people with low vision.

1 minute read

March 15, 2024, 5:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Man with sunglasses and cane sits on bus stop shelter bench.

Serhii / Adobe Stock

A mobile app helps transit riders with vision impairment plan trips more easily, interpreting signage and incorporating scheduling information. As Maylin Tu writes in Next City, the app was developed by Spain-based NaviLens and “uses codes posted at bus stops or in train stations to provide real-time navigation via audio and haptic (vibration) cues, directing the user from the elevator in a train station, for example, to a nearby bus stop.” Agencies including the New York City MTA have adopted the system. Last year, Vancouver’s TransLink agency launched a six-month pilot program at 16 stops to evaluate the effectiveness of the NaviLens system.

Like other accessibility features, designing public facilities for people with vision impairments can benefit other groups as well. “To improve wayfinding, [accessibility consultant Richard Marion] recommends that transit agencies focus on consistent and high-contrast signage across a region, so that people with some sight loss can easily distinguish between a no parking sign and a bus stop, for example, even if they don’t read braille. Making bus stops easy to identify would be helpful for wayfinding in general.”

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