The United Nations predicts that today’s urban populations around the world will grow from 55% to 68% by the year 2050. Yet, as more people flock to urban areas, public transportation still lacks for blind and low vision riders. Public transit is the lifeline to jobs, education, healthcare, and more, so it is imperative that cities become smarter, more inclusive, and accessible for everyone.
Many blind and low vision riders still have trouble getting to their destination. They may be uncertain that they’ve caught the right bus, or can’t read the entrance sign they need to follow in order to access the subway. In addition, the number of people experiencing age-related vision loss rises everyday.
At Moovit, we’re dedicated to providing more accessible mobility solutions to people across the disability spectrum, empowering them to use public transit with confidence. Moovit’s app has been optimized with screen reading features such as TalkBack/VoiceOver capabilities, efforts that were even recognized by the world renowned ONCE Foundation. Moovit’s app also identifies wheelchair-accessible routes and stations, and redesigned its menus and buttons for those with hand-motor disabilities. We also provide our multimodal transit data to developers who use Azure Maps so that they can create inclusive, smart cities, and more accessible transit apps.
That’s why when we heard about Aira, the app connecting blind and low vision users with trained professionals that provide visual information on demand, we knew we simply had to join forces with them and Microsoft to challenge these obstacles faced by blind and low vision public transit riders. Together, we can get more users to their destination efficiently, and empower them to travel with more confidence.
Through its mobile app or smart glasses, Aira connects users to trained professionals, called Aira agents, who can see a users’ environment through their smartphone camera. This enables agents to describe objects, read signage, take and label photos, and more. Now, through this partnership, Aira agents can help users navigate public transit more effectively with better, real-time data.
Through the richness of Azure Maps, and its integration with the transit information, routing and navigation that Moovit provides via its rich Transit APIs, Aira agents can access efficient and reliable navigational tools to assist blind and low vision users. Aira agents can view and obtain information on multimodal trip planning, transit routes, and itineraries, and provide users with public transit guidance for their journey, to deliver the optimal user experience.
We are very excited about our partnership with Microsoft and Aira and look forward to continue working together to promote accessibility and inclusivity, and further simplifying urban mobility.