Innovative Practice 2018 on Accessibility

Outdoor and indoor orientation for people who are blind

Founded in 2016 and based in Santiago, Chile, Lazarillo Tec SPA has developed an application that connects a visitor with location information, improving the autonomy of blind and visually impaired people. The LazarilloApp is a free application for iPhones (iOS) and Androids, and by mid-2017 it has already had more than 7,000 users in 14 countries.

“I have been blind for over 20 years. I am a professor of Spanish and Philosophy, and for my work I have to move to different parts of the city, which is possible thanks to Lazarillo’s application. I think this application is very useful for blind people because it allows us autonomy when moving through the city.”

Marcela AbbottLazarillo user
About the practice at a glance
Name of Innovative Practice:Outdoor and indoor orientation for people who are blind
Organisation:Lazarillo Tec SPA
Country
of Implementation
Chile, operating worldwide, with users in 14 countries

FACTS & FIGURES

Since 2016:

  • To date, the application has had some 40,000 downloads and 7,000 active users.
  • The application has improved the autonomy of 88 per cent of users who participated in a company survey.

PROBLEMS TARGETED

Visually impaired people can have major problems navigating around various open and enclosed spaces, making them more dependent on others and causing them to feel unsafe and unfamiliar in new places, as information on their surroundings is not accessible.

SOLUTION, INNOVATION, AND IMPACT

The application has been developed, together with its users, through a constant iteration process and a development team that includes visually impaired people. The app uses audible messages to provide users with information about their location, pointing out street junctions and reporting on places of interest, such as businesses, institutions, etc. If required, it can also guide the user to a specific point. Currently, the app is being used in 14 countries.

A man with visual impairments using the application.Together with its own databases, the LazarilloApp uses an open database, creating a virtual vision of surroundings. Lazarillo also operates a web platform, that is currently still limited to Chile, that allows the accessibility of enclosed spaces and the geo-referencing of open spaces, enabling companies and institutions to make their spaces more accessible.

Lazarillo has developed an interface that is highly accessible to visually impaired persons, who can use the application through screen readers available on Android and iOS, Talkback, and Voiceover. Since its launch in 2016, the application has had approximately 40,000 downloads.

OUTLOOK, TRANSFERABILITY AND FUNDING

Currently the web platform, which includes an indoor navigation function, is still in Spanish and is limited to Chile, but the company is planning to expand its platform in 2018. Lazarillo seeks to use the platform to assist companies A man with visual impairment using the application.and institutions to make their spaces more accessible. Currently, it is developing an inclusive route at the Museum of Memory and Human Rights in Chile with the aim of bringing the vast history of Chile to the entire population; and it is working with municipalities, hosting workshops to make their premises more accessible.

The application can be internationalized and easily replicated beyond the 14 countries that are currently using the application. It works anywhere outdoors, using information extracted form Google maps, Foursquare, and open street-maps. However, the platform needs to be further developed so that they can be used indoors beyond Chile.
The application generates income and receives federal funds.

FACTSHEET

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