City centre access for blind and partially sighted people in Peterborough has been boosted by a £50,000 technology grant from the Department of Transport.
The joint bid with the RNIB (Royal National Institute of Blind People) was one of 19 successful applications to a government fund set up to encourage ideas to improve city centre travel through smart innovation. The successful bids all focused on using cutting edge technology such as apps and sensors to improve accessibility, cut congestion and improve parking.
The first phase of the Peterborough project will use innovative technology to create a virtual reality model of the city centre to test out various accessibility solutions. The second phase is to implement the successful solutions into the real city centre.
The EyeWear app applies various filters which mimic eye conditions such as Cataracts, Glaucoma and Age-related Macular Degeneration. This raises awareness of the issues people with sight difficulties face in diverse spaces like city centres, and will help the city council better understand what assistance they need to make journeys more easily.
The project will focus on improving access to the city’s main transport hubs such as the bus and train station. It will also improve access along busy routes including Bridge Street, Westgate, Long Causeway and Cowgate, as well as to the RNIB’s office at Midgate House.
Councillor Hiller, cabinet member for growth, planning and housing development said: “Making sure the city is safe and accessible for everyone is a key issue so this is a real boost for people affected by sight loss. Once the technology is developed partially sighted and blind people should find it easier to navigate the busy streets and services more independently and confidently.
"It’s a great opportunity to work in partnership with the RNIB who have one of their head offices here, and to build on our reputation for using innovative digital solutions to improve the environment and wellbeing for everyone locally.”
John Worsfold, RNIB Innovation Implementation Manager said: “We’re all delighted to be working with Peterborough City Council on this exciting project. Too often blind and partially sighted people are unable to make journeys safely. They encounter city centres which are difficult to navigate and full of unexpected obstacles and street furniture. We want to see people with sight loss be able to visit Peterborough city centre with confidence, as we know that maintaining independence is incredibly important to people living with with sight loss.”