The Kansas City Area Transportation Authority (KCATA), in partnership with Alphapointe and Sensible Innovation, has developed a wayfinding app to help blind and visually impaired transit customers use transit more safely and accurately. It is the first application of its kind to be applied to an entire transit corridor in the United States.
The RideKC Navigator mobile app is a custom platform to help individuals with vision impairment or blindness navigate select transit stops. Anyone can download the free RideKC Navigator app on their mobile device (iOS and Android) to receive location-specific audio instructions to help navigate 51 bus stops, East Village Transit Center, 75th Street Transit Center and 31 intersections in Kansas City, MO.
The project, which was developed as part of KCATA’s Prospect MAX Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) 10-mile corridor project runs from the 75th and Prospect Transit Center at Alphapointe, north on Prospect to 12th Street, and west along 12th Street into downtown Kansas City.
“Our partnership with Alphapointe was critical to the testing and deployment of RideKC Navigator,” said Robbie Makinen, KCATA president and CEO. “Our visually impaired experts at Alphapointe navigate the real world on a daily basis. Their help in orientation and mobility instructions, testing and tutorials was invaluable.”
Alphapointe is the largest employer of blind and visually impaired people in Missouri, and one of the largest in the nation, according to Reinhard Mabry, president and CEO of Alphapointe.
“This app will open up the community to people who are blind,” Mabry said. “It will prepare people who have visual impairment to navigate spaces and areas of the community that they may not have been comfortable with previously because they didn’t know enough about their surroundings.”
“To have this app in Kansas City is an incredible, innovative experience,” said Jim Fettgather, who is visually impaired and assisted with development and testing.
Key points along the Prospect MAX route include East Village Transit Center at 12th & Charlotte with connections to multiple bus routes, Independence plaza, ReDiscover Crisis Center, East Patrol Division Station, Linwood Shopping Center, Research Medical Center and 75th Street Transit Center at Alphapointe.
There is a video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8-70krZQjYs&feature=youtu.be that provides an overview of the benefits of RideKC Navigator. It will be released to the public Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2020.