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Wayfindr

What if vision impaired people could navigate independently using their smartphones?

Wayfindr is the world's first internationally-recognised Open Standard for audio-based navigation, stemming from a productive collaboration between ustwo (a global digital product studio) and the RSBC Youth Forum.

To tackle the challenge of independent travel for vision impaired people, Wayfindr is setting the standard for audio navigation using your smartphone. We are working so that wherever you are in the world, indoors or outdoors, you can navigate independently.

Wayfindr trials have taken place in London, Sydney, Oslo, Barcelona, and Venice and we are working hard to make indoor navigation systems accessible to vision impaired people as they are rolled out across the world.

The Wayfindr Story

In March 2014 the RSBC Youth Forum released England’s first ever manifesto for vision impaired young people. It represents the views of vision impaired young people, to bring the community together and make changes that will improve life for future generations. One of the key issues highlighted in the manifesto is transport:

“Just like many young people our age, particularly in London, we rely on public transport to get around, to see our friends, get to college and to work. Unlike our sighted peers we cannot learn to drive; we have no choice but to rely on public transport and other people to get around.”

Watch RSBC's (RLSB) Youth Forum’s video on transport

ustwo worked with members of the Youth Forum to imagine technology-enabled ways to make independent travel more feasible. Following journeys by the ustwo team on the London Underground under conditions of simulated limited sight, and the rapid prototyping and testing of potential solutions with Youth Forum members, a working prototype of Wayfindr was created.

The Wayfindr Standard

The more we explored the world of navigation apps, the more it became clear that what was needed was a consistent standard to be implemented across wayfinding systems. This will open up a world where vision impaired people are no longer held back by their sight loss. To make this a reality, in September 2015 we launched Wayfindr, a new nonprofit partnership alongside ustwo to create the first Open Standard for Audio-based Wayfinding.

The Wayfindr Standard consists of guidelines on how to develop and deploy an accessible audio navigation system, built on a foundation of rigorous user research. Wayfindr creates an experience for vision impaired people that is consistent, seamless and reliable, empowering them to move independently through their environment.

Wayfindr has been successfully trialed in a variety of environments and as indoor navigation systems become mainstream, Wayfindr will make sure that they are accessible for vision impaired people through the use of the Wayfindr Open Standard. Read more about the London Underground trial.

In December 2015 Google.org supported Wayfindr through the Global Impact Challenge: Disabilities. RLSB (now RSBC) recieved a $1m grant towards the Wayfindr project, which allowed Wayfindr to develop the first version of the Open Standard.

Wayfindr: The Next Steps

In December 2017, the Big Lottery Fund supported Wayfindr with a £300k grant to support the development of the Open Standard, training courses for access professionals, and a certification scheme for audio navigation systems.

Wayfindr has also created the Wayfindr Community, a collection of organisations developing accessible audio navigation solutions, to ensure that the Open Standard is used across the indoor navigation industry.