Wayfinding assessments identify the existing building's architectural elements, including auditory, tactile, high contrast and environmental features supporting navigation for people with sight loss. Starting at public transit or drop-off pick up points to the desired arrival point of a journey. This assessment becomes the basis for potential audio based navigation network solutions.
Create Indoor Mapping (IMDF) enabling a generalized, yet comprehensive data model for any indoor location, creating a basis for orientation, navigation, and discovery. In which compatible accessible digital map apps functions are meaningfully labelled, and they can be operated by gesture or voice. The map’s information is presented in digital text. Supporting audio, braille, and adjustable font size and colour options.
Gateway Navigation applies a multifaceted approach in working with venues and stakeholders. This includes upholding principles of universal design, expertise in available assistive technology, stakeholder co-design, testing proof of concept, inoperability of technology and facilitating ongoing feedback by the venue's accessibility team and stakeholders and users.
Sinclair Centre: Inclusive Audio-Based Indoor Navigation Seminar and Interactive Experience
As part of National Accessibility Awareness Week. Public Services Procurement Canada partnered with Gateway Navigation and Accessibuild. In a one-hour Zoom session focused on universal design, accessibility as a social justice issue and a virtual scavenger map walk through at Sinclair Centre.
The session titled “Enhancing Accessibility One Building at a Time”, is based on an educational / awareness series developed by Jim Taggart FRAIC in collaboration with Gateway Navigation and the Canadian Council of the Blind. Added to this edition was an interactive virtual audio-based indoor navigation experience created by Jeff Godfrey, Lead App Developer, Accessibuild. With the support of Sinclair Centre, home of Services Canada and Passport Canada Offices in downtown Vancouver.
David Brun, Director and Founder, Gateway Navigation stated, “We are extremely fortunate to have the confidence and support of the leadership of PSPC in British Columbia to get our perspective and solutions to potential users and decision makers within the Federal Government. Specifically, I would like to express my deep appreciation to Tara Hartley, Regional Director and Annie Desgagné, Regional Director General of PSPC. And their teams for making our efforts possible. When trying to change attitudes and empower ability in contrast to decades if not centuries of engrained bias. The need for Champions is vital and we are extremely fortunate to have Annie and Tara working with us”
Jim Taggart in his presentation explains, “There are no special needs only the needs for people to work, go to school or access services”. Further elaborating that the lack of universal design contributes far more to a person being disable than any limitation they may have in sight, hearing, mobility, etc.”. Concluding that with 22% of the population currently identifying as having a disability and compounding this reality with an aging population. Creating accessible and inclusive public spaces is not only important it is essential for the economic and social health of society.
Jeff Godfrey from Accessibuild then set the stage for the interactive experience of Sinclair Centre, saying, “Normally, for a full service app a highly accurate scan would be done of the interior space, that would then be rendered into a map data file for download to the app. However, for the purpose of this event a data file was created from existing architectural drawings and due to the current social distancing restrictions, the on-site accessibility assessment and trialing by stakeholders was not possible. For that reason, the purpose of the map developed is as a virtual map experience to demonstrate the functionality of the app and is not to used for actual navigation purposes”.
Brian Bibeault, a member of the Canadian Council of the Blind and the Get Together with Tech GTT Program. Then demonstrated the app and the pre-set route through Sinclair Centre. Brian described the features of the app and his experience in testing. Adding, “Using the app to navigate the beta test site in North Bay, I consistently arrive within a step of my destination. The app provides me with direction, distance, and relevant information at each decision-making point. While I apply my orientation and mobility skills as a white cane user to navigate independently.
During question and answer an audience member asked, how would a deaf person access the app for navigation purposes. Panelist, Albert Ruel, Coordinator CC B Get Together with Tech Program, replied, “The map data is digital, not graphical as you would find using Apple or Google maps. So, this information can be delivered through the means most accessible to the user. For example, a braille user could use a refreshable braille device connected to their smartphone. A deaf or visually impaired user may just used screen text that is enhanced by contrast or font size. Or as in my case, by audio feed.”
In concluding, Brun summarized, “we are at the cusp of great change in relation to inclusive audio-based navigation systems. The cost effectiveness and accuracy available through advances in LiDAR mapping. Combined with Apple’s Indoor Mapping Data Format – IMDF as a shareable open source database. Puts venues, app developers and users on a path to greater accessibility and inclusion for everyone”.
If you or your organization would like to find out more about our educational / awareness series, “Enhancing Accessibility One Building at a Time” or for any questions or quotes to make your venue more accessible using inclusive audio-based navigation systems that benefit everyone. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org