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Development of WalkersGuide – a navigation app

Eric Scheibler talks about his WalkersGuide app for mobile phones to provide step-by-step navigation and avoid busy roads and intersections.
INTERVIEWER: What is WalkersGuide?
ERIC SCHEIBLER: WalkersGuide is a navigation aid mainly intended for vision impaired and blind people. The server application calculates an accessible route to the chosen destination, accessible meaning preferably small streets with less traffic, paved ways, and less large intersections. As user, you’re then able to follow the route by using a client application for the Android operating system.
INTERVIEWER: So can you describe some of the key features of this app?
ERIC: Yes. Basically it’s step by step navigation. You are also always informed about the distance, and very important, the direction of the next point of the route. Furthermore, the application informs you about the structure of the intersection in real time, including the street names, types, and bearing. Additional information about points of interest like traffic signals are also available while en route.
INTERVIEWER: Often buses and trams are helpful. What about public transportation?
ERIC: Yes you always can include public transportation. The application then retrieves the nearby stations from the OpenStreetMap database and calculates the best connection regarding the complexity of the switches and duration. An option to look up timetables is also included.
INTERVIEWER: You have been developing the application by yourself. What are your experiences in order to make an Android application more accessible?
ERIC: The most important thing is to label buttons without text and other graphical objects. Otherwise the screen reader can’t determine the purpose of that UI component. You may do so with the contentDescription object.
WalkersGuide is a navigation app aiming at a novel service for blind pedestrians. It calculates accessible routes for walking and considers public transport information.
The Android app offers step-by-step navigation with guidance in real time with guidance to navigate the environment around the walker.
In this video, the developer, Eric Scheibler talks about his approach to the step-by-step navigation and the ability of the app to find alternative routes to avoid busy roads and intersections.
Being blind himself, he is familiar with other approaches to pedestrian navigation and has chosen OpenStreetMap as a source for geographical data, interpreting it in a way that copes with the needs of blind pedestrians. He also describes the most important elements that help to make an accessible Android app.
With all the complexities of developing an app, Eric Scheibler suggests there is one important factor that can make an app accessible, but there may be other important elements. Can you think of any?

© This video is created by Technische Universität Dresden and licensed under CC-BY BY 4.0 International Licence. Erasmus + MOOCs for Accessibility Partnership.
© This text is a derivative of a work created by Johannes Kepler Universität Linz and Technische Universität Dresden, and licensed under CC-BY BY 4.0 International Licence adapted and used by the University of Southampton. Erasmus + MOOCs for Accessibility Partnership.
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