A smartphone app was rolled out on Thursday to assist the over 6,000 visually impaired people who live in Bucharest, guiding and helping them safely navigate the metro unaccompanied.
The free downloadable Tandem Access application, which can be installed on iOS and Android devices, is offered to the blind users by the Tandem Association and the Orange Foundation in partnership with metro operator Metrorex.
Bluetooth beacons have been installed in the 53 metro stations, at locations that could pose a hazard – stairs, access turnstiles, intersections.
The beacons give off an audible beep and communicate with the smartphone through the application that sends guidance messages to the owner.
For the application to operate, the phone Bluetooth and internet connection must be activated; when the blind person reaches near one of the beacons, the device emits an easy-to-identify signal to locate it, and a message is prompted on the phone, telling the owner where he is and offering him directions to get to the desired platform or to exit the station.
The application must be opened when the visually impaired person enters the metro, for the user to be identified by one of the 1,000 sensors installed across the entire metro network and guided via voice-over messages in the desired direction, and also be warned when stairs are ahead.
The system was designed by chairman of the Tandem Association Florin Georgescu, who is himself blind, to help visually impaired people ride the subway without the help of an attendant and without depending on others.
“The Tandem Association releases the first urban mobility tool for visually impaired people, and I think that urban accessibility for people with disabilities is not a closed, subject, but is just at the beginning. Being blind myself, I have often avoided to ride the metro because I don’t know the topography of all the stations. I hope that other people in my situation now take advantage of Tandem Access and overcome the fears and obstacles I have encountered in the past,” said Florin Georgescu, according to Agerpres.