New GPS app would help visually impaired get around

MBTA bus stop sign is in the foreground of an image of a woman with a white cane navigating toward the bus stop.

GPS navigation will get a pedestrian close to a bus stop, but not close enough. Perkins Solutions is working on a micro-navigation app that will provide clues to guide users to the exact spot where the bus stops.

May 26, 2016

BOSTON — The Perkins School for the Blind is working on app that would make GPS far more precise to help the visually impaired.

"It will tell me that there is a bus stop, but I will have no idea where it is on the street - so it could be 50 feet away, it could be 30 feet away, but it's that micro-navigation piece that's missing," said Joann Becker. 

Sometimes GPS directions aren't perfect, which is difficult for anybody, but especially for the visually impaired trying to ride public transportation. Joann Becker lives in Boston and the struggle to get around on public transportation is something she knows all too well. 

Adding to the problem is that not all bus stops are the same. Some are shelters, some are signs and some are poles. Becker said she doesn't know where exactly it is, or what she should be looking for with her cane.

"The bus often goes right past me. So it's enough of a difference that the bus driver doesn't have any idea that I'm waiting at the bus stop," she said.

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