The startup Right-Hear has developed an app that enables blind, visually impaired and disoriented people to navigate public spaces independently through audio guidance.
Based on the belief that the public sphere should be accessible to everyone, more governments around the world have enacted legislations and adopted regulatory guidelines aimed at making public facilities, buildings and areas accessible to people with disabilities, including the blind, the visually impaired or those with disorientation difficulties. Businesses that prepare early for compliance with accessibility requirements will be in a strong position once the framework is fully adopted and reap the benefits.
For people who are blind or visually impaired, navigating a new and unfamiliar environment can be challenging. Most visual cues, such as signs, road signs, and maps are not accessible to this population today. Locally installed audio aids are not effective enough, especially in noisy environments. In addition, the use of Braille is decreasing worldwide, with about 90% of the blind and visually impaired currently not reading Braille, which significantly limits the ability to rely on Braille on a large scale. Those who do read Braille encounter difficulty finding the signage in public areas, and some avoid using it for hygienic reasons.
The Israeli start-up company Right-Hear has developed an audible wayfinding system, which enables the blind and the visually impaired to understand their surroundings and independently navigate public spaces through a “talking signage” app. The system links a dedicated mobile application with wireless signals strategically located in public spaces and accessible spots, provides audio descriptions of the environment and transmits them directly to smartphones or tablets. In this way, the system enables blind, visually impaired or disoriented people to navigate independently and experience the world safely and independently.
The Right-Hear system is customizable, providing the user with detailed information that allows orientation indoors and outdoors. It consists of an application for Android and Apple devices, accessibility spots that are installed throughout the building or area using Bluetooth technology, and a content management system operated by the building manager. The use of the app is free for the user, as the installation and service are funded by the owners of the building in which it is installed. In addition to directions, the user can also receive alerts such as promotions and discounts. A user who encounters difficulties while in the building can call the building service center through the app and receive assistance from a staff member.