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Kirstie Grice Case Study

Kirsty Grice using 3D Soundscape technology to navigate round Reading Station.Technology plays a vital role in ensuring that people with sight loss fulfil their potential and are able to get where they want to be in life. Whether they are travelling to meet friends, commuting to work or visiting a new area, technology can make cities and urban environments more accessible for everyone. Many people living with visual impairment are already tech savvy but research has shown that the right technology can empower people to get out and about independently.

Guide Dogs in collaboration with Microsoft and Future Cities Catapult have launched phase one of an innovative new project called Cities Unlocked, which is exploring how to open up our cities for people living with sight loss. Central to the project is the development of a prototype sound-based technology which has the potential to improve the way people experience the city.

Kirstie Grice, a cane user from Reading, has been involved with the initiative since the very beginning. Kirstie volunteered to be part of a research and development team of five visually impaired people who helped explore and grow ideas to open up the world for people with sight loss using technology. Now after many meetings, technical testing and feedback sessions the concept has now become a reality.

Kirstie said: “Cities Unlocked will make a massive difference to my life.  As a cane user it allows for spontaneity, which opens up a whole new world of opportunities,  as the programme provides real time information about my surroundings such as landmarks, shops, bus stops and transport timetabling which enable me to alter my route.  Now if I am visiting friends and have forgotten to take a gift I can make adhoc stops in unfamiliar areas because the technology updates me with my surroundings, offering a far greater freedom. The equipment is easy to use as basically it is an app which interacts with a wireless headset.

Although it is a prototype, and it will still be some time before the equipment is fully developed, this new technology has the potential to make our cities and towns more accessible and enjoyable for not only people with sight loss but for everyone. I believe this is a huge step forward in making it easier for people with sight loss to get out and about independently."



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