An innovative application aimed at visually impaired people by way of voice messages throughout the city, notably increasingly their level of self-sufficiency.
There are more than 800,000 people in Chile with visual disabilities, with an estimated figure of 285 million worldwide. For many, the simplest of tasks become complex actions, often depending on others to help, whether that is finding a shop door, withdrawing money from an ATM, or paying for a product at a cash desk. It was the need to make the cities in Chile and around the world more accessible places that motivated the Complex Engineering Systems Institute (ISCI) to support the LazarilloApp spin-off, a guided reference system designed to link people with vision problems to the place where they live.
LazarilloApp is a high-impact and socially focused venture created in 2016 that aims to support and improve the daily lives of people with blindness and low vision, enhancing their independence and their social integration. Currently, this free application has 12,000 active users in 29 countries, functioning in twenty languages.
The application guides the user through a series of voice messages, delivering information about the surroundings, such as where a bus stop is located, or the corner of a street. Users have the opportunity to customize the application and mark relevant addresses, such as their home or workplace. It also offers a search feature for specific destinations and gives directions on how to reach them via different methods of transportation.
LazarilloApp offers companies and public institutions the opportunity to make their spaces more accessible and more inclusive by guiding people throughout their facilities. Chilean bank BancoEstado, education institution DUOC UC, the Red Salud UC Christus network of healthcare facilities, the Museum of Memory and Human Rights in Santiago, and Banco de Costa Rica (BAC) are some of the Chilean and international clients that have installed the application within their infrastructure.
In order for the application to truly reflect the needs of its users, the design team includes people with visual disabilities, and constant feedback is received from those who use it in order to implement the necessary improvements.
René Espinoza, Executive Director of LazarilloApp, explains “Our next goal is for LazarilloApp to not simply continue as an application, but for it to become a platform connecting those with disabilities, where institutions, companies, users, family, and friends converge to create shared content and connect with each other.”