Smartphones have more and more applications that, through a voice assistant and with the help of geolocation and data search can guide these people The mobile phone has become the new “guide” for blind people when it comes to working autonomously through cities and performing daily routine tasks, thanks to applications that help this group to break with the barriers.
Smartphones have more and more applications that, through a voice assistant and with the help of geolocation and data search can guide these people in their outings to the street or bus trips, as well as facilitate household chores so that they do not need the help of another person.
“Great progress is being made in everything that has to do with navigation, both indoors and outdoors, with GPS systems that also work to guide institutional buildings to be able to move around inside”, explains the Executive Director of Autonomy Personal, Accessibility, Technology and Innovation of the ONCE, Guillermo Hermida.
With this “the blind person is now more autonomous, he has more security when going through the city because he knows by GPS what street he is on and can ask for a taxi and make decisions autonomously”, adds Hermida, who directs the Biotechnology Center and Innovation (CIT). All this is accompanied by voice assistants, “increasingly present on a daily basis and helping to interact with the environment “, in addition to making it possible for the blind person to know the temperature of their home through their mobile phone and to be able to program or turn on the boiler, the air conditioning, or regulate the light.
“This gives more autonomy and more security, but it is in the mobility where we want to move forward so that the sound warnings on buses spread throughout Spain, to guide the user through the stops of the route and to know their destination,” Hermida adds. which is committed to applying geolocation (already done in Madrid and Barcelona) to implement this support in other cities.
The mobile “apps” have also improved access to banking services, from withdrawing money from the ATM (two entities already have the technology and are expected to extend it) to review the accounts from the website, and one of the objectives of ONCE is to achieve an accessible election, which goes from the ballot in Braille to incorporate a QR code that identifies the vote to each party.
In order for the blind to know how to use all these advances, a team of 76 people forms this group throughout Spain and in 2018 more than 8,000 users had their first contact with these applications. Roberto Malvar is one of these typists and knows that the advances are continuous. “Every day new applications and updates come out,” he explains, aware that every time the mobile phone is becoming “essential”.
One of her students is Dorita Roa, a blind person of 67 years who thanks to the use of this technology feels “equal to the people they see. Because these applications allow you to do everything and give more confidence when it comes to walking around the city. Also to be able to listen to a book, the newspapers … », he says. José Ángel Sáenz de Viteri, a person with a low vision of 59 years, has gone from “fear” to these novelties to “cannot be without them” because it gives them “autonomy with GPS, entertainment with reading books. … »We have solved our lives a lot », he adds.
“In the near future there will be the support of robotic or voice assistants, but it will also go further, to be able to have information in real time of all the services offered by a city,” Hermida predicts. But ONCE’s technological advances are also focused on the world of education and are aimed at facilitating learning in schools and seeking integration, Hermida points out since they allow lessons to be followed without the need for a support professional. develop the task through the computer at the same time as their peers.