Bus stop marking in pavement

New app helps blind riders navigate MBTA bus stops

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority and the Perkins School for the Blind launched the BlindWays mobile application that makes it easier for customers who are blind or have low vision to find bus stops.

The app picks up where GPS leaves off — closing that last “30 feet of frustration” with information about permanent landmarks near a bus stop like trees and fire hydrants.  The crowdsourced clues can bring riders within a 4-5 feet of the bus stop — the length of the average white cane — so they can touch the bus stop sign and verify their location. BlindWays also identifies the three bus stops closest to the rider’s current location and offers vehicle arrival predictions.

The success of BlindWays depends on crowdsourced information, and right now the app includes navigation clues for only a handful of the 7,800 bus stops in the MBTA system. The Perkins School and the MBTA are encouraging anyone with an iPhone to download the app to contribute information about their local bus stops.

The Perkins School received a $750,000 grant from the Google Impact Challenge | Disabilities to develop the app. View YouTube video about the app.

Photo credit: Susan Mara Bregman

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