How can electronic mobility aids and smartphone apps help me find my way around?

Devices and Software

GPS apps, devices and software can give you information about your current location and how to get to your destination. They use a combination of maps and audible directions to help with navigation.

The Victor Reader Trek is a handheld standalone device that combines book reading and media playback with navigation guidance technology that announces streets, landmarks, tubes, bus stops, restaurants, and other places of interest around you. You can also record routes to your favourite destinations and save locations.

Ultra Cane is a smart cane, equipped with an ultrasound system that provides a hazard protection envelope in front of the head and chest of the user. Two ultrasound transducers provide you with range data on close potential hazards, such as plants, people, road signs, and over-hanging branches. More information can be found on the Ultra Cane website.

BrailleNote is a small portable computer which can have GPS software installed on it, so it can provide directions either through braille or audio. As the BrailleNote is a computer, you can also use it for word processing, emails and many other functions, and you can choose between a braille or a QWERTY keyboard version.

Smartphone apps

If you have a smartphone, you can use a navigation app to help you find your way. There are various apps for different types of phones. Google Maps and Waze can be downloaded onto smart phones and are pre-installed on Android phones. If you have an iPhone, they can be downloaded from the Apple Store. The apps include walking navigation delivered through vibration or audio.

You could also try:

  • RNIB Navigator app which is subscription-based, and the NowNav app, both of which can help you to plan your route and get to your destination more easily
  • Microsoft Soundscape is an exploration app that has been designed in collaboration with Guide Dog to make it easier for people living with sight loss to explore towns and cities
  • Blind Square is an indoor and outdoor navigation app
  • Citymapper, Traveline GBTranslink (for journeys in Northern Ireland only) can be a very helpful way to plan your journey on public transport
  • UK Bus Checker, Arriva Bus and NextBuses can tell you when the next bus is arriving, show bus stops and routes
  • Uber and Addison Lee taxi apps are all accessible and allow you to book taxis as well as track your journey and see where your taxi is.

Guide Dogs have put together a series of 12 videos to help explain how to access some of the features offered on iphones such as Voice Over and Zoom. The videos which can be found on Guide Dogs iOS accessibility web pages are split in two sections, part one and part two, each containing six videos for you to scroll through.

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