(Ashland, Ore.) — SOU has partnered with the vendor Sensible Innovations to provide an audio wayfinding app for students, employees and visitors with sight impairments – and other users who like the convenience of audible navigation assistance.
The AWARE Audible Wayfinding app, which provides route directions to buildings and frequently visited locations on the SOU campus, can be downloaded for free from the App Store. The app was developed to help the visually impaired, but is also useful for new students or employees, visitors who are unfamiliar with campus, and others.
AWARE uses programmable “iBeacons” that are placed at various locations on campus as waypoints for users finding their way to both outdoor and indoor destinations at SOU. The beacons connect with smartphones and other mobile devices through Bluetooth Low Energy technology.
More than 200 beacons are currently in place at SOU, in often-used locations such as the Stevenson Union’s Rogue River Room, the Higher Education Center in Medford and at accessibility features such as elevators, building entrances and restrooms. The next phase of implementing the audio wayfinding service will add beacons to new and remodeled buildings including the Lithia Motors Pavilion, Student Recreation Center and Theater Building, and will bring the total to about 300.
Users of the AWARE app can choose whether to read directions or hear them, using the accessibility features on their mobile devices.
Rasha Said – a former actuarial and financial analyst with a background in mathematics and computer science – founded Illinois-based Sensible Innovations as a new standard for visually-impaired services. She is the mother of a visually-impaired child.
The audio wayfinding app is expected to be particularly helpful for universities and transit systems, but the nine initial venues posted on the Sensible Solutions website suggest a wider spectrum – ranging from the Chicago Lighthouse to the Vision Forward Foundation in Wisconsin. Wright State University in Ohio is also listed among the company’s clients.