i3 - September/October 2019 - 18

Tech

By Alexandra Blasgen

PIPE LINE

Making Indoor Spaces
Accessible to All

 I 

magine standing at the
top of a set of stairs,
about to descend into
an underground train station
that you've never been to
before. To reach your train,
you must make your way
downstairs by escalators, pass
through fare gates, turn down
the correct hallway and move
across multiple train platforms going to various destinations. Now imagine that
you are blind. How will you
make your way through the
maze to your train?

This is a challenge that thousands of
blind and low-vision travelers face every
day, not only in train stations but in airports, convention centers, museums and
sporting arenas. Without a sighted guide,
navigating such complex spaces can be
intimidating. Fortunately, solutions exist
that can turn your phone into an audiobased navigation system to talk you
through your route. A new standard
recently published by CTA aims to create
consistency for these services and thereby facilitate
greater independence and
confidence for blind and
low-vision travelers.

with a mobile app that identifies an
accessible route based on the desired
destination. They then use audio alerts
to guide them along that route. For
instance, a user entering a train station
can be told where the ticket machines
are located, how far and in what direction the stairway to the train platform is,
how long the stairway is, and where to
stand on the platform. The user may
also opt to learn more about additional
features such as the location of restrooms, emergency exits or even such
things as museum displays.

Consistency Through
Standardization

The dream of indoor
navigation is for
individuals with
blindness or vision
loss to navigate
independently.
- Verizon's Zachary Bastian, co-chair of
CTA's standards working group that developed CTA-2076.

Indoor Navigation Solutions

The problem of navigation in the open -
on the street or on the sidewalk, for
instance - has been solved for many years.
Phone and car guidance systems make use
of the seemingly ubiquitous availability of
a GPS signal, which triangulates your
position via satellite. However, GPS has
notoriously poor penetration through
walls and underground, making indoor
navigation an entirely new challenge.
To address this deficiency, some venues have turned to vendors of indoor
navigation solutions, who install
Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacons or
leverage Wi-Fi signals to provide users

Although the number of indoor navigation
solutions is increasing, the information
provided can vary widely. Those moving
through multiple locations serviced by different apps may find that each app provides slightly different information at
different times. This is where a standard
set of baseline requirements can help.
Published in June 2019, Inclusive,
Audio-based, Network Navigation Systems
for All Persons including those Who are
Blind/Low Vision (ANSI/CTA-2076)
aims to provide a consistent user experience by establishing requirements and
recommendations for indoor navigation
applications. When app developers and
indoor locations across the country adopt
the same principles in building their systems, it exponentially improves the user
experience and allows people to travel
more confidently, knowing they will
receive similar information across venues.
Audio-based indoor navigation systems
are a cost-effective way to provide those
with disabilities the same freedom to travel
as everyone else and more fully promote
the inclusion of people with disabilities
into the workplace and society.

ACCESSIBLE INDOOR NAVIGATION

18

SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2019

i3_0919_TECH_PipeLine.indd 18

accelerate the adoption of accessible indoor navigation services.
Wayfinding services were also the star attraction at the inaugural
Accessible Indoor Navigation Symposium, hosted by the American
Printing House for the Blind in March. Companies discussed standards, innovative technologies, best practices and next steps for
indoor navigation. A second symposium will be held in 2020.

Silvia Jansen/Getty Images

The global M-Enabling Summit promotes accessible technologies for senior citizens and persons with disabilities. Held last
June, one session focused on indoor navigation for those who
are blind or low vision. Panelists from Verizon, Wayfindr, DC
Metro, and Envision Workforce Innovation Center discussed the
indoor wayfinding eco-system and how standards will help

I T I S I N N O VAT I O N

9/9/19 3:38 PM



i3 - September/October 2019

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