A new app is expected to make it much easier for people who are blind or visually impaired to find their way around a Louisville building. Developed by Louisville’s American Printing House for the Blind which is helping people all over the country.
Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer announced on Monday afternoon that Metro Hall now has beacons tied to the mobile app Nearby Explorer Online. The app lets users point their phones to get directions and descriptions of what’s nearby.
Nearby Explorer Online allows the blind or visually impaired to locate points of interest inside and out. There are now 14 public spaces in Louisville compatible with the technology and Louisville Metro Hall is the latest building to add beacons inside in order for the app to work.
“You know, as a sighted person, you can see the elevators and the escalator, and what the general layout is, but as a blind person you have to discover it either by help with a sighted guide or with a cane or with a guide dog,” Director of Technology Product Research at APH Larry Skutchan said.
Nearby Explorer Online was supported by a $250,000 grant from the James Graham Brown Foundation. The app determines the users location and tells them what is nearby.
Skutchan demonstrated how the app works in a Metro Hall hallway on Monday.
“When you’re blind you’ve got one hand already occupied so you don’t really want to be holding another device, so the normal way to do it is to put it in your pocket and let it announce as you move,” he said.
The app is free on Apple and Android devices. Besides Metro Hall, beacons are installed in Louisville at the Louisville International Airport, KFC Yum! Center, Hyatt Regency Hotel, Frazier History Museum, Kentucky Science Center, 21c Museum Hotel, Muhammad Ali Center, Kentucky Center for the Arts, Actors Theatre, Walgreens on Frankfort Avenue, Crescent Hill Public Library, Visually Impaired Preschool Services, and The McDowell Center.