An executive for the Paris-based company Connecthings says that a pilot program it started last month with Capital Metro to provide real-time bus information to the blind and visually impaired in Austin is going well and that he hopes it will expand to the entire city.
Louis-Alban Batard-Dupré, the company’s North America vice president, said Connecthings began working on the accessibility project a year ago. He said Connecthings will soon seek additional beta testers to gain more feedback and improve the pilot program, which concludes at the end of this month.
“We want to have more users,” about 10 to 20 more, he said. “We want to have an impact and help people on their daily commute. Downtown is way too small. We need to have it citywide.
The pilot program, which is currently focused downtown around Second Street with about 15 bus stops, can alert a rider to changes in bus scheduling or cancellations.
Batard-Dupré said a user could be waiting on a bus, but be unaware that a posted sign says the stop is currently closed. “We wouldn’t need to put people on the street to inform the blind,” he said. “With the beacon they would know that the information has changed.”
Mariette Hummel, a communications specialist at Cap Metro, said: “Working on the smart beacon project is really a way to dip our toes into accessible wayfinding. What technologies like these do is empower people to travel on fixed routes with comfort, ease and confidence.”
Connecthings says the pilot program should be open to new beta testers as early at April 18. It has a link to sign up for the program at surveymonkey.com/r/THH7CHM.