Locals partner to create first transit app for the visually impaired in KC

A transit app arrives for KC’s visually impaired // Photo courtesy of Alphapointe.org

The Kansas City Area Transportation Authority (KCATA), Alphapointe, and Sensible Innovation have partnered to develop an app for the blind and visually impaired to use transit more safely and accurately. It marks the first application of its kind to be applied to an entire transit corridor in the United States.

The mobile app, RideKC Navigator, is a custom platform to help individuals with vision impairment or blindness navigate select transit stops. The free RideKC Navigator app can be downloaded on both iOS and Android devices. Users will receive location-specific audio instructions to help navigate 51 bus stops, East Village Transit Center, 75th Street Transit Center, and 31 intersections in Kansas City, MO.

 The app was created as part of KCATA’s Prospect MAX Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) 10-mile corridor project. The corridor runs from the 75th and Prospect Transit Center at Alphapointe, north on Prospect to 12th Street, and west along 12th Street into downtown Kansas City.

KCATA President and CEO Robbie Makinen credited Alphapointe for playing a critical role in testing and developing RideKC Navigator. “Our visually impaired experts at Alphapointe navigate the real world on a daily basis. Their help in orientation and mobility instructions, testing and tutorials was invaluable,” Makinen says. 

Reinhard Mabry, President and CEO of Alphapointe, says the business is one of the largest employer of blind and visually impaired people in Missouri, as well as nationwide. “This app will open up the community to people who are blind,” Mabry says. “It will prepare people who have visual impairment to navigate spaces and areas of the community that they may not have been comfortable with previously because they didn’t know enough about their surroundings.”

Alphapointe adaptive technology instructor Jim Fettgather is visually impaired and assisted with the development and testing of RideKC Navigator. “To have this app in Kansas City is an incredible, innovative experience,” says Fettgather. 

For more information, watch this video that provides greater insight on the benefits of RideKC Navigator.

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