Bus stop app for visually impaired got start on the street

Route 71 bus stop sign in the foreground. A woman in a dark coat with a white cane approaches the bus stop.

Joann Becker, a technology specialist at Perkins Solutions, walks toward a bus stop in Watertown, Mass.

September 2, 2016

In 2014, when Luiza Aguiar started at Perkins Solutions, which makes assistive technology that helps people who are blind or visually impaired, she did what anyone in her field would do in a new environment: She asked questions.

"I was asking, 'Are there gaps? Are there challenges? What's not solved?'" said Aguiar, director of products at the business division of Perkins School for the Blind, in Watertown, Mass., a suburb west of Boston.

The queries reached Joann Becker, a Perkins employee who trains people in the use of Braille and other technologies. Becker, who is blind and relies on buses to get around, had a straightforward challenge for Aguiar: Help me find the bus stop.

In September, Perkins will help Becker and other people who are blind or visually impaired negotiate the last 30 to 50 feet left out of directions on mobile devices equipped with Global Positioning System (GPS) technology. A mobile bus stop app will give them clues -- a lamppost to the left, a mailbox straight ahead -- that will get them close enough to a bus stop so a driver sees they're there and doesn't pass them by.

The full article, and related stories by Jason Sparapani, on SearchCIO, a TechTarget publication.