New features introduced for visually impaired public transport users
The continued development of leading transport app, Moovit, has taken another leap forward this week. Its latest update sees the inclusion of tools for visually impaired bus, rail, tube and tram users.
Around the world, almost 40 million people have visual impairments, and many of them use public transport to get around. Moovit’s new integration of VoiceOver and TalkBack functionality (for iOS and Android, respectively) will reach more blind users around the world than any other transportation app. For blind users who have VoiceOver and TalkBack enabled on their devices, every screen within the Moovit app will now be accessible.
The Moovit team worked with a blind developer while creating the accessibility features, who provided first-hand experience and feedback that helped ensure the product would be efficient and easy to use for blind passengers.
With the new VoiceOver and TalkBack integration, blind users simply have to hold their finger on their phone screen to hear which button or icon is beneath it, helping them to navigate more seamlessly through the app, and allowing them to plan trips on public transport with ease.
“We believe that we need to cater to all use case scenarios, as well as different communities, including the blind community,” said Alex Mackenzie Torres, Moovit CMO. “By incorporating these accessibility features, we’ll now be able to help even more users get around their cities smoothly.”
Sam, a Moovit user from the East Midlands said, “As a visually impaired person, I almost always use public transport when travelling. I use my iPhone for almost everything, but in order to be able to use any app, require that it works with the VoiceOver accessibility feature built into iOS. Moovit is an app which works fantastically with VoiceOver.”
“If I need to travel to an unfamiliar area, I can simply open Moovit and plan a route from my door to the destination. This demonstrates the company’s sincere desire to act upon customer feedback and to make their app available for as many people as possible.”
Moovit worked with blind developer Adi Kushnir on the project. He said, “One of the biggest benefits is that you can explore a route to a certain place before you go. For blind people this is important. From home, you can learn and explore your route so that when you go, it’s already familiar, not new.”
“Another benefit is that we don’t have to rely on the announcements of stations when we’re travelling. There are sometimes problems, especially with bus lines, where the next station is not always announced. Moovit tells you when you’ve finished your ride so you know when you’ve arrived to your destination. This is not the only version that will be accessible; we’re going to update the app and make sure that each and every Moovit version release, and each and every new feature will be accessible in the future.”
Kushnir concluded, “I explained to the Moovit team how to make this application accessible on a standard platform. We are using the standard app on standard devices, we don’t use special devices for the blind. We use the same technology as everyone else.”
“Incorporating accessibility functionality for the blind community is very important to Moovit, and contributes to our goal of making every local journey smooth, as so many people in the blind community rely on public transportation to get around,” said Torres.
The company is committed to providing a smooth transit experience for all users, and will continue to experiment with more accessibility features in the future. In addition to the new accessibility capability, the new version of the app also incorporates the option for users to connect their Facebook or Google accounts. This allows for synchronisation with all their favourite bus routes, train or metro lines, locations, points and ranking, and other app preferences with the cloud so they’ll always be readily available.
S.V., 30 March 2016.