VIA installs new technology system to help blind, low-vision riders

SAN ANTONIO – VIA Metropolitan Transit has started installing an innovative system that will help people who are blind or have low vision more easily navigate the public transportation system in the San Antonio area.

NaviLens is wayfinding and information technology that helps blind and low-vision riders navigate to a bus stop, access real-time bus arrival information, and receive directions to the bus when it arrives at the bus stop with the use of their smartphone and the NaviLens apps. The technology is available in 34 different languages.

VIA will install nearly 6,000 multi-colored QR-style coded NaviLens signs at bus stops and other locations over the next several months. The NaviLens app automatically detects the signs whenever users’ phones are within 50 feet. Once a sign is detected, the app provides spoken navigation to it and translates the code into an audio message that includes real-time information.

VIA conducted a pilot program of NaviLens at 100 bus stops with high ridership and near Vibrant Works, formerly known as Lighthouse for the Blind, which partnered with VIA on the project. Testing events where members of the public participated and provided feedback regarding their experience using NaviLens were also conducted.

The VIA board of trustees approved the implementation of the technology in January 2023.

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