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.”

Wednesday, March 13, 2024 in Next City

View of Mount Hood at golden hour with Happy Valley, Oregon homes in foreground.

Clackamas County Votes to Allow ADUs, Residential RVs

County officials hope the zoning changes will help boost the housing supply in the region.

June 18, 2024 - Mountain Times

Single-family homes in a suburban neighborhood in Florida.

New Florida Law Curbs HOA Power

The legislation seeks to cut down on ‘absurd’ citations for low-level violations.

June 16, 2024 - The Guardian

Aerial view of intersection in New York City with yellow cabs and zebra crosswalks.

Planners’ Complicity in Excessive Traffic Deaths

Professor Wes Marshall’s provocatively-titled new book, "Killed by a Traffic Engineer," has stimulated fierce debates. Are his criticisms justified? Let’s examine the degree that traffic engineers contribute to avoidable traffic deaths.

June 13, 2024 - Todd Litman

View of Palos Verdes Drive along Pacific Ocean in Palos Verdes, California at sunset.

Erosion Threatens SoCal Road, Lloyd Wright Icon

The city of Palos Verdes is closing parts of a roadway to cyclists, citing safety concerns as the land underneath moves between 7 and 12 inches per week.

June 23 - Daily Breeze

Faded image of vacant storefront in rural area with American flag stars painteind on windows.

COVID Isn’t to Blame for the Retail Vacancy Crisis

A drop in demand for retail space began well before the seismic shifts of the pandemic.

June 23 - Slate

Heavy New York City traffic headed toward Holland Tunnel in Manhattan.

Judge Rules in Favor of MTA in Congestion Pricing Suit

Advocates of the program are calling on Gov. Hochul to reinstate the program in light of the decision.

June 23 - StreetsBlog NYC

City Planner I

Department of Housing and Community Development

City Planner II

Department of Housing and Community Development

City Planner Supervisor

Department of Housing and Community Development

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.