Wednesday, June 29, 2022 - 11:45 AM

Accessible Navigation and Wayfinding at the Downtown Pedestrian Mall

Today, the City of St. John’s in collaboration with CNIB Frontier Accessibility, a CNIB social enterprise, announced the launch of BlindSquare, an accessible navigation and wayfinding tool being piloted at the Downtown Pedestrian Mall. The iPhone app is designed for individuals with low vision or blindness, or any person who may benefit from a wayfinding tool to navigate the mall safely.
 
BlindSquare’s self-voicing technology delivers detailed points of interest for safe, reliable travel for individuals with sight loss. The software uses GPS technology to estimate the proximity of sidewalk curb cuts, parklets, and public seating. When visiting the Downtown Pedestrian Mall, patrons using BlindSquare will be informed of the location of these features, making the experience easier and more accessible for anyone that chooses to use it.

“We want the Downtown Pedestrian Mall to be a welcoming place for everyone who wishes to visit,” said Councillor Debbie Hanlon, Council lead for Inclusion. “Each year, we continue to work with members of the Inclusion Advisory Committee, and our community partners such as CNIB, to identify ways to improve accessibility during the Downtown Pedestrian Mall event. The BlindSquare pilot project is the result of our ongoing work to improve the event and to make it more accessible.”

Accessible navigation and wayfinding are critical to improving the overall event experience, and for increasing access for people that identify with having a disability.

“Accessible technologies like BlindSquare are important connection points for CNIB, as we work together with community partners like the City of St. John’s to create more accessible spaces for individuals living with sight loss,” said Amanda Halliday, CNIB’s Coordinator of Community Giving. “Understanding this technology and its applications is an important part of our collaboration - together we are breaking down barriers to inclusion by using accessible technology.”

“We are grateful to the city of St. John’s for their commitment to accessibility and inclusion,” said David Demers, President, CNIB Frontier Accessibility. He adds, “They recognize that social participation begins when everyone can navigate their city independently and safely. The BlindSquare installation in the Downtown Pedestrian Mall not only improves access for people with disabilities but also provides a better experience for everyone.”

The BlindSquare Event app is free to download for iPhone users, and users have unexpired access anywhere in Canada. Unfortunately, the app is not yet available for Android devices.

Feedback on the app is welcome, please email inclusion@stjohns.ca.