The purpose of this post is to share with students with visual impairment or those who are blind (and anyone else who have vision problems) some of the best navigation apps to use to help them navigate their surroundings in a more accessible way. These accessible mobility apps provide voice-guided navigation data including turn-by-turn navigation to facilitate exploring one’s surrounding environment. Almost all of these navigation apps provide audio notification and haptic interaction allowing for an unobstructed navigation experience.
Since these apps are basically GPS based they need access to your location in order to provide you with accurate navigational data. Some of these apps can also work in the background even when the phone is locked which might decrease battery life. Users are advised to keep watch of how the app is draining their batteries.
BlindSquare is an accessible outdoor and indoor navigation app to help individuals with vision impairments navigate with more confidence. BlindSquare uses advanced technology based on GPS and the compass to locate the individual and with the help of FourSquare it collects data from surrounding environment and communicates it to the user in a clear speech sound.
Upon open the app, BlindSquare quickly detects the surrounding radius uncovering nearby crossings, streets, and other landmarks. Users can use the search functionality to search for a specific location and access key data such as addresses, phone numbers, tracking the place, and more. BlindSquare can also detect when you travel by car, bus, or train and start communication landmarks around you using text-to-speech and speech synthesis.
BlindSquare offers voice commands feature that is available as an in-app purchase allowing users to speak their instructions to the app and navigate their daily lives using voice output. BlindSquare supports numerous languages including Arabic, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Swedish, among others.
Compatibility: iPhone/iPad/ Price: $39.99/ Age: 4+
2. GoodMaps Explore
GoodMaps Explore is another good navigation app for individuals with low vision or those who are blind. The supports both indoor and outdoor navigation and is highly customizable. GoodMaps Explore collects data about surrounding environment including current direction, street, points of interest, etc, and communicates it to the user through notifications.
Users can easily customize the frequency of these notifications from the app’s settings. They can also save and keep track of favourote places and points of interest. Other features provided by GoodMaps Explore include: accurate indoor routing, POIs search, step-by-step tutorials to use help with understanding of how the app works, find nearby intersections, sign in to access restricted buildings, and many more.
Compatibility: iPhone/iPad and Android / Price: Free, offers in-app purchases / Age: 4+
Clew is a navigation app that uses the augmented reality technology to enable people with visual impairment to record, share and navigate their indoor environment. The app is designed to save a location like a room or a seat and help the user easily get back to that location after exploring the surrounding environment. Users can pause tracking once they reach the location and resume it anytime they want.
Clew works also in outdoor places but it require well lit areas with clearly visible features and few moving objects for it to function optimally. Clew uses voice directions, sound, and haptic feedback to provide guidance.
Compatibility: iPhone/iPad / Price: Free, offers in-app purchases / Age: 4+
Lazarillo is a GPS-based navigation app that helps individuals with visual impairment explore and navigate nearby areas using a wide variety of mobility tools. Once the user activates the app, it starts communicating data about nearby places such as current location, street intersections on the way, adjacent shops and landmarks, etc. Users can search for places on the app using voice or keyword. They can also search using categories example banks, food, entertainment, etc.
Lazarillo also offers ‘information about establishments that work with blind or visually impaired people. The app is linked to a web platform where the institutions are able to show important information about events, courses, workshops, and any data that a blind person may need. In that way Lazarillo collaborates with these institutions improving the communication among users, providing better connectivity between people with visual disabilities.’
Compatibility: iPhone/iPad and Android / Price: Free, offers in-app purchases / Age: 17+
5. Nav by ViaOpta
Nav by ViaOpta is another good navigation app to help people with visual impairment navigate their surroundings. It offers voice-guided turn-by-turn navigation allowing users access to data such as current location with street address and lists of junctions and intersections coming ahead. other interesting features provided by Nav including the ability to set favourite locations by category, insert waypoints into the journey, integrated haptic interactions, and many more.
WeWalk is an accessible mobility app that enables people who are blind or low in vision to explore their surroundings in a comfortable and accessible way. The way it works is simple: open the app and search for a place you want to go to using features such as explore, my places, public transportations, etc. WeWalk gives you step-by-step audio instructions to help you get to your place.
For daily commute, WeWalk helps you find nearby public transportation stop and when use the public vehicle it notifies you of upcoming stops. The Explore mode is another key feature provided by the app. When turned on the app detects the surrounding environment and start sharing nearby locations. Users ‘ can also list the places around by pressing the discover button. From this list, locations can be navigated, Uber can be called up, or the t to go later.’