An app to help vision impaired people navigate the London Underground with their smartphones is being trialled at Euston station.
The concept is an initiative of the Royal London Society for Blind People (RLSB) Youth Forum.
In 2014, the Youth Forum released the UK’s first manifesto for vision impaired young people. One of the key issues it highlighted was transport.
A recent survey by the RLSB estimated that almost half of the 11,000 people under the age of 25 living with sight loss in London didn’t feel confident using the Tube.
In collaboration with digital product studio ustwo, the RLSB Youth Forum developed a working prototype of a digital navigation system called Wayfindr.
It guides users to their selected destinations using audio directions delivered by beacons in the station to their smartphones.
“What makes Wayfindr so strong is the focus on smartphones”, said RLSB Chief Executive Dr Tom Pey, “meaning blind people don’t have to spend hundreds of pounds on different gadgets – they have everything they need in their pockets.”
The trial will run at the station until the end of January. It follows a smaller trial testing the technology at Pimlico station which ended earlier this year.
Euston was chosen because it is one of London’s busiest Tube stations. In 2013-14, almost 42 million people entered and exited the station, the fifth most in the country.
There are 81 different routes in total in Euston connecting every platform and every exit and the prototype app can direct users between all of them.
“Wayfindr will allow us to travel independently,” said RLSB Youth Forum member Ashar Smith, “which will facilitate accessibility to jobs, reduce the risks of isolation, and allow us to enjoy the city that we live in.”