The Big Lottery Fund helps empower vision impaired people to navigate public spaces

Wayfindr wins Big Lottery Fund grant to develop standards for audio wayfinding apps for vision impaired people

Chloe Green | 30th Nov 17

The Big Lottery Fund has awarded £300,000 towards helping vision impaired people in the UK safely navigate indoor environments.

The grant will go to Wayfindr, a not for profit partnership between the charity Royal Society for Blind Children (RSBC) and digital product company ustwo, with the aim of raising awareness and adoption of indoor audio wayfinding.

Since 2015 organisation has worked to develop an Open Standard for indoor audio navigation. Its set of guidelines have helped building owners, transport companies and navigation software developers create accessible indoor navigation apps for vision impaired people.

These apps allow users to recieve audio instructions through their headlines which are triggered as they approach obstacles or turning points. This lets them safely and independently navigate indoor public spaces such as rail stations, shopping centres and hospitals.

Wayfindr will be using the National Lottery funding to help further develop the Open Standard through series of trails across the UK, after initial trails at London’s Euston and Pimlico stations has shown a desire for the technology to be widely available.


An end to social isolation

Research by the RNIB has shown that almost half of vision impaired people feel ‘moderately’ or ‘completely’ cut off from people and things around them, so the Open Standard aims to help reduce social isolation for some of the two million people in the UK – or one in 30 – living with sight loss.

“Wayfindr is a brilliant concept that could potentially have a huge impact on the lives of two million vision impaired people,” said Dawn Audwick, Chief Executive of Big Lottery Fund.

“The implementation of this digital tool will enable individuals to better engage with the people and places around them making them feel more connected to their community. We are delighted to award National Lottery funding to such an innovation.”

“Wayfindr shows digital tools can be a force for good and will help vision impaired people lead more independent lives.”

Big Lottery Fund is responsible for giving out 40% of the money raised by National Lottery players, awarding almost £713 million to 14,000 charitable projects across the UK last year.