Greater Wellington is investing in navigation resources to boost accessibility in public facilities

  • Published Date 10 Aug 2021
  • Author Ali Kaye

Greater Wellington is working with Blind Low Vision NZ to install tech in the office’s public facilities to enable members of our community more independent and safe access.

Six BlindSquare beacons have been installed in Greater Wellington’s Cuba Street office reception area, right through to the council chamber and emergency exits.

BlindSquare is a Bluetooth and GPS enabled app developed for the blind, deafblind and low vision community that provides detailed points of interest and intersections for safe, reliable travel on the street and within buildings. 

Greater Wellington’s Metlink technology and data lead, Andrew Myers says, "Our goal is to make Greater Wellington’s facilities more accessible for our diverse communities, more equipped for emergencies and general health, safety and wellbeing.”

“Providing different ways for people to access information is really important, especially since we have individuals within our communities who have varying needs,” says Andrew Myers.

On a continuous basis, Blind Low Vision NZ and the blind community provide Greater Wellington insights and help with user testing on accessibility, tech and services.

“The beacons are very much a starting point for Greater Wellington. Technology like this will be explored down the line to identify how we can integrate it into other facets, services and resources,” says Andrew Myers.

“Similar technology could be used to notify bus drivers that someone with an accessibility requirement is waiting at a stop.”

Blind Low Vision NZ national technology advisor, Thomas Bryan says, “The beacons do little on their own, but in combination with data, and specific messages delivered via apps such as BlindSquare - it can provide information on a specific location, transport information and wayfinding.

“Often such information is only available via print such as signage, so providing access to such information and the environment is essential in getting safely around the city and accessing public transport.

“Beacons act like signposts; they provide key places of information for the blind traveller or those who have trouble reading printed words. It’s really about providing individuals with the means and ability to know one’s environment.

“The beacons provide people with information that makes it easier to be independent and safer,” says Thomas Bryan.

Greater Wellington councillor Ros Connelly says the new Council premises on Cuba Street, right beside the bucket fountain, is a gorgeous space and it's wonderful that it is now more accessible for our blind and low vision community. 

"Greater Wellington wants to remove barriers to enable everyone to access our services. These BlindSquare beacons are a small step in this accessibility journey, I look forward to learning where we can utilise this technology next," says Cr Connelly.

Updated October 12, 2021 at 4:26 PM

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