Eye-opening blind mobility service Right-Hear is coming, er, right here (to the UK)

Based upon an award-winning blind mobility and orientation system, Right-Hear is a service that is about to boost the confidence and choices of blind people out and about – well, actually indoors - in the UK.

Being blind brings challenges when getting around

Robin Christopherson with service dog ArchieWith a trusty guide-dog or long cane, blind people can effectively navigate the cluttered streets and swarming crowds (often comprising many people distracted by smartphones) and avoid the pitfalls (quite literally) of roadworks and vehicles parked on the pavements. We can usually end up where we intended to go without incident or misadventure. 

The challenge often comes, however, when you are so close to your destination that you could probably touch it – although you don't know that you can because, well, you can't see. GPS apps on our phone are great at getting us to the approximate area of our goal (the door of a shop, say) but not accurate enough as to enable us to find it without a lot of feeling around and trial and error. 

Once in the door there are all the other challenges associated with finding our way around the aisles or corridors, locating lifts or (and this is by far the most important one) loos and sourcing a helping hand by seeking out the customer-service desk.

Tech to the rescue

Bluetooth beacons, combined with cleverly coded software on our smartphones, can help blind people not only precisely find the door of the building but also every other desired destination within it. Using an open standard that has been developed specifically to help the visually impaired and those with other orientation impairments called Wayfindr (winner of the 2016 Tech4Good Accessibility Award), the Right-Hear solution is about to hit the streets (or at least the buildings and unmapped open spaces) of the UK and it's worth a look. Let's see it in action in this short video:

Mobilising mobility solutions - made easy

Wayfindr has prepared the ground for services such as Right-Hear to be more readily realised. The challenge of how and when to present just the right amount of spoken information to help someone orientate and navigate around in an open space has been clearly laid-out in the Wayfindr open standard

Right-Hear has used that foundation and built both an app for blind end-users and an easy-to-use dashboard for venue owners to configure the experience for their customers. 

Let's take a look in this video at how a venue can be set up to use the service:

Showing the way forward

Easy and effective, let's hope that Right-Hear and other such services represent significant steps to enhanced mobility for everyone who faces challenges finding their way around. Wayfindr has paved the way for many such services to be developed and deployed in the UK and across the world. 

Just as there is a plethora of GPS apps to choose from, so should there soon be choice and a competitive landscape in which everyone can easily find their way around both indoors and out. 

Bravo to Right-Hear. We encourage everyone responsible for a building or unmapped open space to use such solutions to make them truly accessible.

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