MEDIA RELEASE EMBARGO: 11:30 am EST, Wednesday March 9, 2016
BRANTFORD: Today the City of Brantford announced that the world’s first performing arts application of a new technology to improve accessibility for users with vision loss has been implemented at the Sanderson Centre for the Performing Arts in Brantford. Leadership from the City, the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) and W. Ross Macdonald School were on hand during today’s announcement as details and a demonstration of the new technology service were shared.
The implementation involved a combination of Bluetooth iBeacons installed throughout the theatre that work in tandem with an iOS application called BlindSquare. The app, available from Apple, provides visitors with location-based information through their smartphone to assist with navigation inside the building. BlindSquare determines the user’s location using an iOS-device’s GPS capabilities and looks up information about the environment on Foursquare and Open Street Map. “This is a major milestone in the accessibility field”, said Glenn Brown, Manager of the Sanderson Centre. “We’re very proud to be the first Performing Arts theatre to provide this important service and greatly appreciate the support we’ve received from CNIB at both the local and provincial levels, W. Ross MacDonald School for the Blind, software provider ‘MIPSoft’, Apple Inc., iBeacon provider, ‘Kontakt’ and of course the Sanderson Centre Foundation for the funding required to make this exciting initiative a reality”.
BlindSquare is the world’s most popular accessible GPS-app developed for the blind and visually impaired. It describes the environment and announces points of interest for users as they travel. In conjunction with free third-party navigation apps it is a powerful tool that enables blind and visually impaired individuals to travel more independently. The application determines user location by engaging iOS-device GPS capabilities. Employing unique algorithms, it ascertains the information most useful to the user and provides direction in a clear synthetic voice. BlindSquare possesses filters that can be set in advance so only the information currently needed is conveyed.
BlindSquare supports Braille displays so people who are deafblind can also access the technology service. The app also uses Apple’s voiceover feature to provide additional support for Braille displays.