Visually-impaired people can now navigate Cardiff Central Library with ease .
Visually-impaired people can now navigate Cardiff Central Library thanks to a new indoor navigation app.
The UCAN GO app is part of a two-year project designed by a group of visually impaired people, to help them navigate indoor spaces more confidently and independently.
“Any public building can be overwhelming for some, and we wanted to reduce that anxiety and allow people to utilize the resources available to anyone,” says co-designer, Mared Jarman. `’I’d like a friend in my ear whispering “Watch out for the stairs. The light’s going to change” – look out for you.”
The app, created by UCAN productions and Calvium, is already available in the Wales Millennium Theatre – the Library is the first building other than a theatre to be mapped. UCAN Productions is a performance and creative arts society for blind and partially-sighted children.
“The Library was a new, refreshing start for us – to test whether it would work in such an essential building. Once this app on your phone, you’re ready to go. It’s always there for you. In the outside world, we’ve got excellent resources like google maps and GPS. The problem starts when you get into the building. This app is needed everywhere,” says Mared.
The app has two functions. After you select a venue to visit, the overview feature provides information on the entire building, from the reception to the library services to the bathrooms. Its second function is routing. Through a series of short commands or instructions, it takes you from where you are to where you want to go, along with an overview of the entire journey – how far it is, and a picture of what you’re looking for, and a chime when you get there.
The app is available on iPhones and iPads, and allows them to change their settings to make them more user-friendly, such as color contrast, and choosing stairs or lifts, so that they can always be directed to them.
“It’s useful not just for visually impaired people – people who have social anxiety might find it useful to know everything about it before they go there and find their way. It’s kind of a companion”, says Jake Sawyers, 24, co-designer of the app.
The team behind the app is eager to expand to more willing buildings, as well, and make sure that visually-impaired people have access to as many resources and activities as the rest of society.