April 2021, 8th to 11th
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Kéolis Rennes tests an accessibility solution for visually impaired users with Right-Hear

Getting around using a public transport system can quickly become a battlefield for users who are blind or visually-impaired. The experiment conducted by Kéolis Rennes in three metro sta-tions provided an opportunity for gaining in-depth insight into accessibility challenges. It also served to demonstrate how concession holders and local authorities are moving ahead together on innovation issues.

Innovation and public service delegation

The public service delegation contract between Rennes Metropole and its operator Kéolis was signed for seven years. Since it is, of course, impossible to anticipate where technological innovations will lead, budgets have been allocated to provide an element of flexibility for moving forward in line with technological developments and the needs expressed by transport users. It was in this perspective that dur-ing inOut, the Right-Hear application was tested in three metro stations in Rennes. As is often the case, the interest in using funding for innovation to cover this project came from Kéolis teams. “It was Laurent Sinégout, director of Kéolis Rennes, who met the company during a business trip to Israel. He thought it made sense to try out the solution given the aims we’ve set ourselves with Rennes Métropole in respect of network accessibility,” pointed out Aurélie Krauss, head of travel information and accessibility at Kéolis.

Helping blind and visually-impaired users find their way around using spoken infor-mation

Voice guidance is reliable and has long been used outdoors by combining GPS and smartphone accessibility tools. GPS, however, cannot be used indoors, this making obtaining a precise location more complicated in the very places where enabling users to find their way around independently is essential. The Israeli company selected for this experiment uses ‘ten Bluetooth beacons per station’. As for the technical side of things, devices used in the test are-as were installed by the service provider. The Kéolis team used a content editor to configure messages sent via the application. Installing and configuring the beacons went smoothly. The qualitative evaluation demonstrated the huge potential of an orientation application such as Right-Hear, which gives those who are visually-impaired a certain level of independence when getting around. A quantitative survey will complement the evaluation of the system.

Following up on the experiment

In contrast to a previous olfactory orientation test that failed to produce any conclusive results and was rapidly abandoned, despite a few necessary adjustments identified by the evaluation, this real-life Right-Hear test is not where things are expected to stop. A full report will be presented to Rennes Métropole at the end of the year along with proposals from the Israeli startup’s competitors. For Aurélie Krauss, this is also one of the advantages of a network like Kéolis: “Kéolis Lyon is now starting to experiment with another solution, and we are, of course, sharing information, results and contacts.” In Rennes, Orange was inspired by this project, and it deploys the same system in its store at Place de la République.

Publié le 2 December 2019

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