Missing your bus stop on the way to work can be very annoying. But imagine what it must be like for a passenger who can’t see? It could happen all the time, especially in Sydney’s busy peak hour.
Happily for paralegal Nic Parsons who is blind, a specialised talking GPS iPhone app called BlindSquare tells him when he is approaching the nearest cross street to his stop, so he knows when to press the button.
Nic, who has Lebers Amaurosis, a degenerative genetic condition that affects the retina, has received training in how to use BlindSquarefrom a Guide Dogs NSW/ACT Orientation and Mobility Instructor.
“My route to work is quite challenging, so it’s important I know when to get off the bus,” says Nic, whose daily commute involves a ferry, bus and train ride to cross Sydney from his home in Manly to the law firm in Bondi Junction where he works.
“I can’t always rely on bus drivers for assistance, which is where BlindSquare comes into its own. It’s also useful for explaining my surroundings when I’m travelling in unfamiliar places.”
The BlindSquare app enhances the independence Nic enjoys with his long cane. Already in 1995, when Nick was at primary school in Canberra, he was trained to use a cane by a Guide Dogs Instructor.
Nic, who is fluent in Indonesian and is pursuing a legal career specialising in that country’s law, also uses a shorter, red and white identification cane around work to let others know he has a vision impairment.
Guide Dogs NSW/ACT offers a number of different Global Positioning System (GPS) solutions for people with impaired vision. These solutions enable them to gain information about their locations as they move around using their long cane or Guide Dog.