16 May, 2024

BlindSquare App Set to Improve Accessibility on Trans Canada Trail

Michael Moore using BlindSquare on the City of Victoria Trail.

Navigation technology for people who are blind or partially sighted to be implemented on the Trail in Victoria, BC in June

VICTORIA – A section of the Trans Canada Trail is being outfitted with technology that will vastly improve accessibility for people who are blind or partially sighted.  

Through funding from Trans Canada Trail and a collaboration between the City of Victoria’s Accessibility Advisory Committee and CNIB Access Labs, BlindSquare, a free-to-download navigation app for people who are blind or partially sighted, is currently being implemented for use on the City of Victoria’s section of the Trans Canada Trail.  

BlindSquare, supplied in Canada by CNIB Access Labs, is a self-voicing app that pairs with third-party navigation apps to announce detailed points of interest and intersections for safe, reliable travel both outside and inside. On the Trail, the technology will provide people who are blind or partially sighted with a more fulsome, safe experience.  

The work is being spearheaded by the City of Victoria’s Accessibility Advisory Committee and Michael Moore, a lived-experience consultant with the City of Victoria’s Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion.  

“Before I used an app like BlindSquare, my world consisted of the few routes I had ingrained through repeated use,” says Moore, a member of Victoria’s blind community who has been testing the app on the Trail.   

Michael Moore using BlindSquare at the Pacific Ocean Trailhead of the Trans Canada Trail on the City of Victoria Trail.“The work we are doing on the Trans Canada Trail goes beyond street names and business locations. We are adding benches, picnic tables, garbage cans, and water fountains. These may seem like simple additions for people with vision, but when I hear my phone announce that I have a garbage can at two o’clock five meters away I feel joy in my heart. There are bathrooms, forks in the path, dog bag dispensers and thousands of other things that would be perceived as trivial things for most, but so important for me.”  

In addition to functional elements like bathrooms or benches, BlindSquare can also inform low- or no-vision people of historical, natural or cultural details often displayed to people with vision on plaques or signs.  

“As a person who is blind, being able to independently navigate the trail, and having access to the natural, historical, artistic and cultural features along the trail, through description, will be very empowering,” says Linda Bartram, a member of the City of Victoria Accessibility Advisory Committee. “This is true accessibility for me.” 

“Adding these way points helps me build the world for myself and others with similar conditions and allows us to experience the City of Victoria in ways that we had never experienced before,” Moore adds. 

BlindSquare is expected to be fully rolled out on the City of Victoria section of the Trans Canada Trail in June.  

“CNIB is grateful for the City of Victoria’s commitment to providing equitable experiences for all citizens and visitors, as well as the invaluable support of Trans Canada Trail,” says David Demers, Managing Director, CNIB Access Labs. “This game-changing project, featuring BlindSquare, transcends traditional access by integrating cutting-edge navigation technology. It levels the playing field by ensuring equitable access for all, allowing everyone to enjoy the Trail. We are always proud to collaborate with organizations that prioritize equity and inclusion, taking our accessibility solutions to the next level.” 

The project is the latest in Trans Canada Trail’s efforts to make outdoor experiences accessible to people of all abilities. In addition to supporting a funding stream for accessibility and inclusion improvements on trails across the country, the organization also recently created guidelines for All Persons Trails and since 2020 has partnered with AccessNow to carry out Accessibility Mapping on trails throughout the country. 

“It’s crucial that we in the trail sector break down barriers that prevent full participation in outdoor recreation,” says Trisha Kaplan, Director of Trail Inclusion Initiatives at Trans Canada Trail. “BlindSquare makes a difference in the way people who are blind and partially sighted experience public spaces and we are thrilled to work with the City of Victoria and CNIB to implement it on the Trans Canada Trail. We look forward to bringing this technology to more regions as we work toward our goal of making the Trail accessible to everyone.” 

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Contact
Justin Fauteux
Media and Public Relations Manager
jfauteux@tctrail.ca  

Resources

About Trans Canada Trail  

The Trans Canada Trail is a 28,000-kilometre trail system that crosses every province and territory, connects 15,000 communities, and reaches all three of Canada’s coastlines. It is the longest multi-use trail in the world and it is always growing.  

Trans Canada Trail is the organization that advocates for, stewards and champions Canada’s nationwide trail system. It is a registered charity that receives funding from the Government of Canada (through Parks Canada), various provincial and municipal governments, and generous donors.    

About City of Victoria

Victoria, the Capital City of BC, is home to a dynamic, thriving economy and vibrant arts and culture scene, with an unparalleled natural environment enjoyed by residents and visitors. It’s a place where sustainability, health and well-being are the cornerstones of creating a prosperous and inclusive future. We are committed to removing barriers for all people so that everyone can access and fully participate in City services, spaces and programs. We seek to be a city where everyone is included, welcomed and respected. We strive to treat everyone fairly and ensure that all people benefit equitably from City policies, programs and services. We are committed to ensuring we hear all voices as we make decisions. 

About CNIB Access Labs

CNIB Access Labs is an accessibility consultancy dedicated to transforming digital experiences and built environments across Canada. With a focus on user-centric design and Lived Experience Accessibility Testing services, CNIB Access Labs aims to revolutionize accessibility practices and foster a society where no one is left behind. One hundred percent of our proceeds are reinvested into CNIB to create innovative programs and powerful advocacy that empower people impacted by blindness to live their dreams and tear down barriers to inclusion. 

About BlindSquare

BlindSquare is the world’s most widely used accessible GPS-app developed for the blind, deafblind, and partially sighted. Paired with third-party navigation apps, BlindSquare’s self-voicing app delivers detailed points of interest and intersections for safe, reliable travel both outside and inside. Open the doors to enhanced independence with BlindSquare. To learn more visit blindsquare.com