Brisbane will soon be taking another big step forward to increase its accessibility and inclusiveness for blind and vision impaired residents and visitors.
Over the coming months, 30 new Step-Hear devices – or “talking signs” – will be installed in the King George Square bus station thanks to a grant from TransLink to help people with low or no vision navigate the city and the public transport on offer.
The “talking signs” were initially installed in the Queen Street Mall in 2013 as part of an Australia-first trial, run by Guide Dogs Queensland and Brisbane City Council. The trial was so successful, that the Brisbane City Council has also funded a further 10 signs to be included in the Brunswick Mall redevelopment and a further 10 signs to the Guide Dogs training centre at Bald Hills so people can practice using the new technology.
The new Step-Hear technology being installed is compatible with smart phones, which can be set up to alert the user when they come into the range of one of the “talking signs”. The user then simply presses a button to listen to the recorded messages on the sign.
People who want to use the technology that do not have a smart phone can still wear a small activator device, which will vibrate or beep to let the user know they are able to listen to a recorded message. Guide Dogs Queensland currently provides the activator devices through the client services department.
Each “talking sign” has up to ten minutes of voice recordings available, which allows people to both obtain information about their surroundings and receive instructions on how to reach a location.
The Step-Hear technology provides a new alternative to assist users to navigate independently in the Brisbane CBD.