IC Birmingham, UK.
Friday, February 24, 2006.
A £165,000 facility to help blind and visually impaired people navigate their way around Birmingham city centre will be launched in the spring.
The Wayfinder system provides blind and partially-sighted people with audible information to confirm their location and help them reach their destination safely.
Units will be installed on existing street furniture and in purpose-built stainless steel posts located at the back of footways.
Service users will be given trigger cards to carry, which will activate the speaker unit to give out a message. The council hopes to add messages in a range of languages to the service after the launch.
A total of £65,000 of the final cost was recently agreed by Councillor Len Gregory (Con Billesley), the cabinet member for transportation and street services at Birmingham City Council.
Coun Gregory said: "This is an excellent system, assisting blind and partially sighted people find their way around Birmingham city centre.
"It will help people find transport in the city, their places of work, shopping venues, public services and visitor attractions making Birmingham an even more accessible city."
The scheme is a result of a partnership between the council and agencies including The Royal National Institute of the Blind, Birmingham Focus on Blindness, Queen Alexandra College, National Federation for the Blind and Guide Dogs for the Blind.
Rob Legge, chief executive of Birmingham Focus on Blindness, said: "Sight loss is a frightening and traumatic experience that affects almost every aspect of a person's life.
"Our aim is to help the 30,000 children and adults in Birmingham who have sight loss to achieve a better quality of life. Wayfinder goes a long way to achieving this.
"For people with sight impairment, travelling around the city independently is a major problem, so Birmingham Focus is delighted to be working with Birmingham City Council and others on the Wayfinder project."
After the launch, the council will be encouraging users to give their views about the service. ..SUPL:
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