Debut of a new product that not only will be free, but also is the first of its kind: a Web site and smartphone app designed to help blind people navigate in Metrorail stations, which can be treacherous places for the sightless.”  said Brandon Cox, Columbia Lighthouse for the Blind.

By Paul Duggan

Brandon Cox, a staff member at the nonprofit Columbia Lighthouse for the Blind, says inventors and marketers have approached him many times with what they think are wonderful devices to help the visually impaired become more mobile.

“It’s just crazy,” he says. “You’ve got eyeglasses that vibrate when you get too close to something. You have smart canes that give you everything from the weather to vibrations for whatever’s in front of you. I mean, there’s a camera you wear on your forehead, with an earpiece, and there’s somebody sitting on the other end, telling you where to go.”

The promoters often want financial help and endorsements from the CLB, as the organization is known. But Cox, the group’s senior director of education and rehabilitation services in Washington, typically says no, citing cost concerns. “Only one percent of the population is visually impaired,” he says. “A market like that just isn’t going to sustain any kind of expensive product.”

That’s why he is excited, he says, about the debut of a product that not only will be free, but also is the first of its kind: a Web site and smartphone app designed to help blind people navigate in Metrorail stations, which can be treacherous places for the sightless.

Two years in the making — a collaboration between CLB and a St. Paul, Minn., company called ClickAndGo Wayfinding Maps — the Web site is set to be launched Friday, with the app soon to follow. Initially, the service will offer information about one station, Gallery Place-Chinatown. But within a few years, depending on the availability of grant money, Cox says, it could expand to the rest of the subway system……read more: 
 
Source: The Washington Post
 
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