Guide Dogs expert role in the development of a world-first tool for the vision impaired: Bindimaps
For the vision impaired, large indoor spaces such as shopping centres are incredibly busy and complex environments for people with vision impairment to navigate says Jennifer Moon, Guide Dogs NSW/ACT.
To help the vision impaired gain independence and feel confident in these areas, specialists from Guide Dogs NSW/ACT helped develop the world’s first internationally-approved standard for accessible audio navigation, BindiMaps.
“While the orientation and mobility services Guide Dogs provide help enable people to navigate these environments independently, the introduction of BindiMaps provides another layer of information to assist with orientation,” said Ms Moon.
For more information on how BindiMaps is changing the lives of the vision impaired, take a look at this video to see how this app is changing the way the vision impaired experience large spaces, such as shopping malls.
Using this experience, our Accessibility & Technology team was able to:
- Provide expert adviceI in the development and implementation of the BindiMaps app and
- Supply feedback on the positioning of the beacons at trial sites and appropriate language for wayfinding
How does BindiMaps work?
BindiMaps is optimised for people who are vision impaired and uses a white cane of Bluetooth beacons installed throughout the indoor environment. BindiMaps applies everyday language to guide users via their smart phones to their destinations.
Guide Dogs NSW/ACT Assistive Technology Specialist Ben Moxey (pictured), who is vision impaired and uses a white cane, had the opportunity to test BindiMaps at Stockland Wetherill Park shopping centre, the first large indoor public space using BindiMaps.
“Information is power. It’s been great to experience the way an app like BindiMaps provides additional information about the environment I’m moving through. It’s helped me navigate to specific locations like shops and facilities with more ease and accessibility,” Ben said.
What happens next?
BindiMaps is currently in a number of small scale installations including Guide Dogs NSW/ACT’s head office in Chatswood. In addition to shopping centres, the technology can be applied inside any major precinct, such as university campuses, airports and office buildings.
“Before BindiMaps, a person with vision impairment would need significant help from others to be able to do something most of us take for granted, accessing our local shopping centre. But now, even someone whose sight is very limited or non-existent can find their way around much more independently, even if they are unfamiliar with the space,” said Dr Anna Wright, founder and CEO of BindiMaps.
“This is a significant milestone for our start-up and will pave the way to BindiMaps being rolled out at other major facilities around Australia,” said Dr Wright.
For more information about BindiMaps visit www.bindimaps.com.
At Guide Dogs NSW/ACT our mission is to empower people with vision loss to actively participate in their communities. We offer a range of Assistive Technology that ranges from mobile aids such as canes to technology such as Trekker Breeze GPS that make the lives of the vision imapired easier and provides them with independence and confidence for their day-to-day lives.