How Technology Helps Visually Impaired Navigate Social Distancing World

May 1, 2020

Posted by WCBS 880

Adaptive technologies are helping the visually impaired navigate the world of social distancing.

We got a call at WCBS 880 this week from Michael of Forest Hills, Queens, who is legally blind.

“They keep saying that people should be six feet apart and we need special help when we go into stores,” he said.

Ed Plumacher, the adaptive technology specialist at the Lighthouse Guild, says there’s an app that can help the blind navigate the subway or a supermarket during social distancing.

It’s called AIRA. The app connects a smartphone camera with a sighted person.

“They can tell where you are, if you hold the camera in front of you pointing out they can tell what’s in front of you, describe the scene, estimate distances, things like that,” Plumacher said.

There’s also a sonar-equipped smart cane called WeWalk that will vibrate when the used gets within six feet of an object or person.

The Lighthouse Guild also offers mental health services for the blind who may be more prone to loneliness while sheltering at home.

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