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GPS and Wayfinding Apps

People with visual disabilities use a variety of tools to help them navigate their environment. Non-technological methods include white canes and service animals. This reference guide offers an overview of the technological solutions for people with disabilities when in transit from one location to another. Listed in this resource are mobile applications (apps) for mobile devices that can aid people with visual impairments in finding destinations. The apps listed below are for use in conjunction with white canes and service animals, not to replace them. Prices are subject to change and listing in this reference guide does not constitute endorsement.

Mobile Apps

The following software mobile apps are designed to work with devices such as iPhones, iPads, and phones and tablets working on the Android platforms. Several are designed specifically for people with visual disabilities, while others are designed for the general public but are accessible to users with visual impairments as of this writing.

Access Now

Access Now informs users of the nearest restaurant, bar, café, or other space open to the public and shares its accessibility to people with disabilities. A map feature gives directional information to users. Users can enter accessibility information about particular locations. For more information, visit: http://accessnow.me External.

Price: Free
Platforms available: Android, iOS

Apple Maps

Offers turn-by-turn navigation for users and allows them to ask Siri for navigation to locations, as well as provides transit timetables and directions to locations using public transportation. Users can store their favorite places on any additional apple devices they have. For more information, visit: https://www.apple.com/ios/maps External.

Price: Free
Platforms available: iOS

Ariadne GPS

Ariadne interfaces with VoiceOver to provide information regarding the data on its map. Users place their fingers on the map shown on the app, and the app provides them with directional guidance. It has the option of alerting the user with periodic information regarding their location. For more information, visit: https://www.ariadnegps.eu External.

Price: $5.99
Platforms available: iOS

AroundMe

AroundMe tells users what is near them. If they are looking for a restaurant or library, AroundMe informs them of the closest one. Designed for the general public, it also has a view feature that uses the device’s camera so that the images of items of interest appear on the screen. For more information, visit: www.aroundmeapp.com External.

Price: Free, also included in-app purchases
Platforms available: Android, iOS

Autour

Using 3D sound, Autour lets users with visual disabilities know of the points of interest around them in real time as they walk. Once users discover a point of interest they want to learn more about, they can select it. The app provides them with additional information. For more information, visit: http://autour.mcgill.ca/en External.

Price: Free
Platforms available: iOS

BlindSquare

BlindSquare interfaces with FourSquare to inform user of points of interest nearest them and dictates the location in a synthesized voice. The app also announces information about intersections near the user. For an additional in-app credit purchase, it can respond to voice commands. For more information, visit: https://www.blindsquare.com External.

Price: $39.99, also included in-app purchases
Platforms available: iOS

BlindSquare Event

Blindquare Event is available to organizers of meetings, conferences, social gatherings, and other functions that expect blind or visually impaired individuals to attend. Organizers can register their event with BlindSquare, which makes key information about the event available for free. For more information, visit: https://www.blindsquare.com External.

Price: Free
Platforms available: iOS

Clew

When activated, Clew traces the steps of a user with a visual impairment so they can follow their steps back. It also saves the route so they can revisit the direction they originally chose. Uses of the app include, for example, finding one’s way from a hotel ballroom back to the front door of a lobby. For more information, visit: https://www.clewapp.org External.

Price: Free
Platforms available: iOS

Embark

Designed for the general public, Embark is a public transportation app that works in over 500 cities around the world and contains maps of their transportation systems. It informs users when they are approaching their stop and saves favorite stops for the rider. Users can bookmark destinations so they can receive step-by-step instructions to those locations. Allows users to access entertainment options from within the app itself. For more information, visit: https://embarkok.com External.

Price: Free
Platforms available: iOS

Get There

Get There is a GPS app designed for people with visual impairments. Gives turn-by-turn navigation and alerts users when they approach and arrive at intersections. Informs users when they veer off their route. Users can set alerts for when they reach specific locations. Speech recognition is available. For more information, visit: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.LewLasher.getthere External.

Price: Free
Platforms available: Android

Google Maps

Google Maps is available in over 220 countries, offering users point-by-point navigation and real-time mass transit information. It contains information on points of interest and suggests points of interest based on visits to similar locations. Allows users to share points of interest with friends and loved ones. For more information, visit: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.google.android.apps.maps&hl=en_US External.

Price: Free
Platforms available: Android, iOS

iMove around

iMove around notifies users regarding their locations and tells them of nearby points of interest and allow for the recordings of speech notes. It allows for user to share their location via text message and visit the website of the point of interest nearest to them.

Price: Free
Platform: Android, iOS

Intersection Explorer

Intersection Explorer offers speech instructions about the layout of the intersection to walkers with visual impairments as they “touch and drag” their fingers over the screen. For more information, visit: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.google.android.marvin.intersectionexplorer&hl=en_US External.

Price: Free
Platforms available: Android

iWalkStraight

iWalkStraight is an orientation aid that informs users when they are no longer following a straight trajectory and gives them speech instructions when they stray.

Price: Free
Platforms available: iOS

Lazarillo

Lazarillo gives users information about their locations as they navigate city streets. It informs them of points of interest nearby and allows for searching locations, such as restaurants, cafes, and libraries. For more information, visit: https://lazarillo.cl/en External.

Price: Free
Platforms available: Android, iOS

Lazzus

Lazzus identifies the current location of users and allows them to pre-program information about common obstacles on routes they frequently travel. For instance, they can program in crosswalks, staircases and other potential hazards so they will be notified the next time they approach them. It also tells users about nearby points of interest, such as cafes, restaurants, banks. For more information, visit: www.lazzus.com External.

Price: Free (allows for in-app purchases)
Platforms available: Android, iOS

Loadstone GPS

Previously available on Nokia devices, Loadstone is now available for iOS. Users navigate their surroundings, learn their addresses, and discover points of interest. It also allows users to input in data about a specific location and share that information with other Loadstone users. For more information, visit: https://www.loadstone-gps.com External.

Price: $7.99
Platforms available: iOS

MyWay Classic

Directs travelers with visual impairments to points of interest. Can access data from the contacts in the phone of the users and direct users to the locations of those addresses. Notifies users of nearby points of interest. Users can import files from Open Street Map to discover additional points of interest. For more information, visit: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/myway-classic/id494282724 External..

Price: $14.99
Platforms available: iOS

Nearby Explorer

Nearby Explorer guides users as they move toward a destination. Users can either enter in an address or select from points of interest, and the app provides them with point-by-point instructions on how to get there, sharing information about intersections and alerting them when they are veering off the entered course. For more information, visit: https://tech.aph.org External.

Price: $79.99
Platforms available: Android, iOS

Nearby Explorer Online

Nearby Explorer Online is a free version of Nearby Explorer. Unlike its fully functional parent, it only works indoors when connected to the internet. For more information, visit: https://tech.aph.org External.

Price: Free
Platforms available: Android, iOS

OverTHERE

When users direct their phone to a point of interest--which are referred to as “signs”--the app informs them what it is. It also allows users to access the contact information about those points of interest and informs them of street intersections. For more information, visit: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/overthere/id1126056833 External.

Price: Free
Platforms available: iOS

Seeing Assistant AlarmGPS

Seeing Assistant AlarmGPS alarms users as they are making their way to their destinations. Users can set the alarms and distance notifications. It also has a “where am I” function that informs users of their current location. For more information, visit: http://seeingassistant.tt.com.pl/alarmgps External.

Price: Free
Platforms available: iOS

Seeing Assistant Move

Using geolocation from OpenStreetMap, this app gives users directions as they navigate. It provides advanced scanning of a region to provide directions for the user. It is voice activated, allowing users to speak commands into their phones. For more information, visit: http://seeingassistant.tt.com.pl/alarmgps/External.

Price: $4.49 (Android), $3.99 (iOS)
Platforms available: Android, iOS

Seeing Eye GPS

Provides point-by-point navigation to users as they make their way to their destinations. Has simplified menu with only current location, points of interest, and route. Describes the intersections where users are located. Gives a warning when approaching turns. Routes are recalculated when the users stray. For more information, visit: www.senderogroup.com/products/seeingeyegps/index.html External.

Price: $5.99 subscription
Platforms available: iOS

Soundscape

Designed to be used with stereo headphones, Soundscape allows users with visual disabilities to find desired destinations and tag them with virtual beacons. Users hear a bell sound when facing the beacons. When a travelers are not directed toward a beacon, they hear a tapping sound from the direction in which the beacon is located. The app also highlights points of interest and allows for users to mark locations such as bus tops. For more information, visit: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/research/product/soundscape External.

Price: free
Platforms available: iOS

ViaOptaNav

Offers turn-by-turn navigation for travelers with visual impairments. Informs them of their current location and alerts them when they’ve reached their destination. Allows users to setup waypoints for ease of navigation and to save destinations. For more information, visit: https://www.viaopta-apps.com/ViaOpta-Nav.html External.

Price: Free
Platforms available: Android, iOS

Where Am I At?

Designed for the general public, Where Am I At? pinpoints locations of users with information including the address and coordinates. Allows users to share their location information with others. For more information, visit: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/where-am-i-at/id389894248 External.

Price: Free
Platforms available: iOS

Where To?

Designed for the general public, Where To? announces points of interest nearest to the user. It lists points of interest near the user’s location and provides information on locations, such as the menus of restaurants and special offers from businesses. For more information, visit: https://www.futuretap.com/apps/whereto External.

Price: $2.99
Platforms available: iOS

Apps That Work with Strategically Placed Beacons

The apps and devices listed below work with beacons placed strategically in a venue. Proprietors of the location contract with one of the companies listed below to have them place the beacons. The end user has access to a free app that uses those beacons to help them navigate around the setting.

Aware

Aware uses iBeacons to inform users where they are in a specific location and how to navigate a building. For example, it tells users at an airport how to find their gate or a shopper at a mall how to find a department store. The beacons can also have data specific to a location programed within them to relay back to users. For example, Aware can tell users if an item at a store is on sale. It is capable of being operated by voice commands. For more information, visit: https://www.sensible-innovations.com External.

Price: Free
Platforms available: Android, iOS

ClickAndGo

ClickAndGo offers users a library of venues to choose from such as college campuses, airports, train stations, bus terminals, hospitals, etc. It interfaces with iBeacons placed in the location to communicate that information to users with a visual impairment. For more information, visit: www.clickandgomaps.com/clickandgo-wayfinding-app External.

Price: Free
Platforms available: iOS

LowViz Guide Indoor Navigation

Working with strategically placed beacons throughout a building, the app informs users with visual disabilities of their locations. It provides them with guidance of best locations and routes within an indoor environment. For more information, visit: https://indoo.rs External.

Price: Free
Platforms available: iOS

RightHear

Using a series of beacons strategically placed throughout a location, RightHear informs users of key locations in that area. It can be used in places such as airports, shopping malls, hotels etc. Users have the option of receiving specific instructions from a telephone operator for indoor environments. For more information, visit: https://right-hear.com External.

Price: Free
Platforms available: Android, iOS

Bibliography

“9 Outdoor Navigation Apps for People with Visual Impairment.” Float. https://gowithfloat.com/2016/10/9-outdoor-navigation-apps-people-visual-impairments External.

“Consortium Develops GPS App for the Visually Impaired.” Cool Blind Tech, October 30, 2018. https://coolblindtech.com/consortium-develops-gps-app-for-the-visually-impaired External.
Dixon, Judy. Go Where you Wanna Go. Boston: National Braille Press, 2017.

Cheragh, Seyed Ali, Vinod Namboodir, and Laura Walker. “GuideBeacon: Beacon-Based Indoor Wayfinding for the Blind, Visually Impaired, and Disoriented.” Paper presented at the IEEE International Conference on Pervasive Computing and Communications, Kona, HI, March 2017. https://www.envisionus.com/EnvisionUS/media/SiteImages/Page%20Banners/percom2016-camready.pd External.

Holton, Bill. “Indoor Wayfinding with Access Explorer from American Printing House for the Blind: One Step Forward.” AccessWorld, September, 2019. www.afb.org/aw/20/9/16761?utm_source=AFB&utm_campaign=d956301c84-AW-SEPT-2017_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_ec813cd965-d956301c84-165288905 External.

Iozzio, Corinne. “Indoor Mapping System Let’s Blind Navigate Airports.” Smithsonian, August 8, 2014. www.smithsonianmag.com/innovation/indoor-mapping-lets-blind-navigate-airports-180952292 External.

“Which Navigation Apps Would People Recommend for a Blind iPhone user?” AppleVis, June 30, 2016. https://www.applevis.com/forum/ios-ios-app-discussion/which-navigation-apps-would-people-recommend-blind-iphone-user External.

Zanetti, Oliver. “The Navigation Apps that Help the Visually Impaired.” OpenLearn, July 25, 2018. https://www.open.edu/openlearn/society-politics-law/sociology/the-navigation-apps-help-the-visually-impaired External.

Updated February 2020

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