The Swiss National Association for the Blind has created a GPS app for visually impaired. Would you like to have this app in Norwegian?

Story by: Morten Tollefsen - 17.09.2012

Magne Lunde, Roar Nordby, Daniel Scheidegger, Arild Torgersen and I were fortunate enough to meet Jürg Cathomas of the Swiss National Association for the Blind. He is the man behind the GPS app MyWay Classic. This App can be used on the iOS and downloaded from Appstore. MyWay Classic costs 70 kr but there is also a free version (MyWay Lite). I can translate this to a Norwegian version, if this is of interest let me know by e-mail.

In the project Improved GPS for visually impaired, the goal is to find out what it takes to make the technology better. MediaLT is also working with other mobile technology that can be used in combination with GPS. In the project Local areas under your fingers, we are developing tactile talking maps. GPS can be combined with video telephony, and we are looking into this in the pilot project SEE.

Open street map (OSM)

What is most special about MyWay Classic is that the app can use OSM. The other big GPS alternatives like Tomtom, Navigon etc use only commercial road maps. In some areas for example out in the woods OSM is a much better option. OSM is a bit complex for many people, but a completed map can be downloaded. In principle though, everyone can be involved in designing maps and you can create a maps showing only the things that you are interested in. For visually impaired it would have been desirable to have better tools to work with OSM, but I think many will be able to get this to work as it is now. Jürg Cathomas has also created a tool to filter out information, so you can get maps with bus stops and other things that are particularly useful for visually impaired.

I know MyWay Classic from before. The program can be used to check where you are, you can record routes, share routes with others and "look around". Point to point navigation like that found in GPS navigation for cars is not there. If you have recorded a route, however, you are guided using the clock.

Future development of MyWay Classic was a major topic at the meeting. The answer is probably that the possibilities are very many, but in the end it's all down to money. Cathomas can in principle use what he wants but it has to be paid for.

Tactile maps

We searched to find information about what is happening in Switzerland regarding tactile maps. This proved to be very little!

Cathomas believes that tactile maps are not very user friendly, after trying such maps at conferences. This supports what MediaLT has always said: that tactile maps must be enjoyed in peace and quiet! It is not a quick process to make mental maps using tactile graphics, but it is a superior tool when used in the right way!

Cheese Fondue, Swiss chocolate and and Victorinox knives

There was an overnight stay in Bern. Of course we had to try the cheese fondue, at least the bravest of us, "nothing ventured nothing gained". In truth we probably envied those who chose the juicy steak! And of course there were large purchases of Swiss chocolate and Victorinox knives!

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