New app brings enhanced accessibility to Perth bus network

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Wednesday, 8 January 2014 13:54pm

A new app for Android smartphones has been released to help Perth residents who are blind or vision impaired get around on buses.

Stop Announcer (Perth) provides audio information for buses and other public transport around Perth, Western Australia. Users select their route number and stop, and the app counts down the number of stops and alerts the user when their stop is approaching. The app is designed specifically for people who are blind or have low vision, so it is completely screen reader accessible with a high contrast visual design.

Developer Voon-Li Chung explained the inspiration for Stop Announcer.

“Basically I was listening to the radio when this came on: ‘Graeme Innes, who's blind, has taken the operator of Sydney's transport network, RailCorp, to court. He argues that by not providing audible announcements, it's breaching federal disability standards.’ I remember thinking, if the visually impaired need announcements for rail, how do they cope with buses? It would be relatively straightforward to write a smartphone app which did something similar.”

Chung and his Perth-based company picoSpace also released the PointFinder app in September last year. PointFinder helps people who are blind navigate between landmarks. In its first months, the app has over 120 active users.

Both Stop Announcer (Perth) and PointFinder are available for those who have Android phones. While the Apple iPhone is the preferred option for many who rely on assistive technology, Android is becoming an increasingly viable lower-cost option.

While the app is currently only available in Perth, versions could easily be created for other cities worldwide. And although Stop Announcer was designed specifically for those who are blind or vision impaired, it could also be useful for people who like to sleep while they travel.

Stop Announcer has just been made available on Google Play for $3.

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