Innovation for Independence


Publish date:
16/01/2015 - 11:48am
Last updated:
16/01/2015 - 11:51am

Wayfindr is the result of a productive collaboration between the Royal London Society for Blind People (RLSB) Youth Forum, ustwo and Transport for London (TfL). It is an accessible, open and scalable service with a companion navigation app that aims to ensure a consistent and seamless user experience for all users of public transport. After selecting your route, the app would guide you through your journey. The RLSB Youth Forum released their Youth Manifesto in March 2014, identifying there is currently no way for blind young people to independently navigate London Underground (LU) stations. Wayfindr is about using the latest developments, in technology, tested by vision impaired young people to reach a simple solution to the transport challenges identified. Wayfindr proposes the use of Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) iBeacons within the LU system to allow smart-phone users to navigate the tube system using the companion app. When linked in to the rest of the transport and GPS network, this app could allow all passengers to move seamlessly between modes of transport and request any additional assistance. This service is built around an app that the user can download to their smartphone rather than complex, bespoke hardware. Wayfindr was designed to solve specific challenges, but the solution has the potential to benefit a much wider audience.

Insight & Impact

Being able to travel is essential to self-actualisation for blind young people. Persistent negative experiences lead to a proven reticence to use public transport amongst vision impaired young people and often isolation. Leonard Cheshire’s Mind the Gap research found that 86% of VI people say that inaccessible transport has restricted their choice of jobs. If successful, wayfindr will open up a new world for vision impaired people. The combination of RLSB, ustwo and TFL brings together our combined experience and thought leadership around all aspects of accessible transport products and services. With only one step between user and the service, giving end users full opportunity to feed into the service at every prototyping stage. For TfL, this project provides a great, unbureaucratic opportunity to collaborate with ustwo and RLSB to trial new visually impaired assistive technologies. TfL will provide a chance to real-life test the technology within a London Underground environment so that there will be better understanding of the benefits and potential it could provide. As well as benefiting the discreet group of vision impaired users that this app was originally prototyped for, it has the potential to improve the journeys of the millions of people who travel on London’s transport network whether they are tourists or commuters.