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Waymap in Los Angeles: A Summary

6 July 2022

The Waymap application proves successful in helping vision-impaired people to navigate around a Los Angeles university campus with which they are unfamiliar. 

In March and April 2022, Waymap made its navigational system available at the Westchester Campus of Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.

Loyola Marymount University (LMU) and Waymap wished to test the effectiveness of Waymap’s technology in delivering navigation services for vision impaired people around campus.

The best approach to deliver this was determined to be a live trial of Waymap’s technology to understand the experience and response from members of the local vision impaired communities.

 

Trial Setup

This trial involved delivering a functioning service focused on blind users via a free to download iPhone or Android app and end-to-end routing both between and within buildings throughout the LMU campus, and was supported by Verizon and the local vision loss educational non-profit Wayfinder Family Services.

We had previously carried out tests in Los Angeles with Wayfinder Family Services, and this new trial was a great way to pick up where we left off before the pandemic.

In 2019, for example, Waymap carried out a successful pilot with Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LACMTA) at Union Station working with a large cohort of blind and low-vision riders recruited by LACMTA.

 

Trial Results

The pilot demonstrated that audio-based navigation using Waymap’s technology greatly improved independence for blind and low-vision people and showed that they were highly motivated to expand their use of public transportation and reduce their use of paratransit.

Our trial found that:

  • 81% of blind and low-vision participants found the instructions easy to understand, while
  • 77% found it easy to find their way using the automated instructions.
  • 94% said they felt confident using the system to find their way through the station without assistance.

 

In a wider context:

  • 85% would be confident using the system to find their way through a public place they were not familiar with
  • 74% said they were a lot less stressed while navigating.
  • 87% overall said they had a good experience travelling through the station.

 

The trial also highlighted the potential for Waymap to increase the use of public transportation by blind and low-vision people. 96% of trial participants said that they would be more likely to use public transport on their own if Waymap’s system was available.

The percentage who said that they would prefer to use public transport to paratransit options if Waymap’s system was available increased by 67%; rising from 43% to 72%, while 89% also said they would be more inclined to travel on their own.

These findings indicate a very significant increase in the ability of blind and low-vision people to use public transportation and participate more fully in society. The findings also indicate a potential fall in demand for ‘demand response’ and paratransit services for people with disabilities.

 

Looking Forward

Waymap’s solution supports wayfinding in all settings, indoors and outdoors and across multi-level environments connected by elevators, lifts, stairs or ramps. Our application’s ability to locate and orientate people without infrastructure lends itself well to both small and indoor, and, large and outdoor spaces. And, because Waymap’s breakthrough technology was developed for blind people and to enable independent living, we are a huge advance on all other navigation apps.

Following this fantastic feedback from our recent trial at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, Waymap continues to develop its offering throughout the USA, working a variety of organisations in order to make venues (whether indoor or outdoor, public or private) more accessible.

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