Creating and Using a Point of Interest on a Greenway or College Campus using BlindSquare

Featured Image: 
Ed Summers standing at a greenway intersection with his Seeing Eye dog, demonstrating how to set a POI using the BlindSquare app

Can you use GPS based navigational apps in open spaces such as on a university campus or on a greenway?  Absolutely!  Even though navigational apps are typically tied to streets, you can add Points of Interest (POIs) to label a variety of places, including intersecting sidewalks located on a greenway path and/or interior sidewalks on large university campuses.  Students can also use POIs to mark a specific door of a university building or a bus stop located in the middle of a block.

Always begin teaching a new app by having the student explore what is in the Tool Bar on the app's home screen.  The Tool bar is normally located at the top of the screen.  Encourage students who are familiar with apps and using VoiceOver, to open and explore the various options in the Tool Bar.  This enables the student to independently learn about the app's features and capabilities. 

After exploring the Tool bar and the home screen, the student can practice adding a POI.  

O&M Hint: To add a real POI, the student must be standing at the desired location.  However, it is often best to teach the mechanics of how to use the app while sitting at a desk, then apply the knowledge in the real outdoor environment.

VoiceOver Commands used

  • One finger right Swipe - moves forward one item
  • One finger double tap - activates or selects the item that has VoiceOver focus
  • Two finger single tap - Quiet VoiceOver (pauses VoiceOver chatter)
  • Two finger double tap - starts and stops dictation (when the VoiceOver focus is in a text field) 

To Add a POI

Screenshot of BlindSquare's Add Place screen.With VoiceOver running, open BlindSquare.  The VoiceOver focus should be on the Search button in the top left corner of BlindSquare's home page.  Open Add Place button. (1 finger swipe right to Add Place.  Double tap to activate.) The Add Place screen opens.  Swipe right several times to hear the name of the place.  The physical address is automatically listed as the Name of the Place.  To change the name, swipe right again to "Clear Text button".  (See screenshot.)  Double tap to clear the text.  Type in the desired name. To start dictation, use a two finger double tap, speak the desired name, then two fingers double tap to stop dictation. In the video, Ed added the name, "Intersection of bridge and North Cary Park."  Right swipe to Alert Distance. Double tap to toggle the Alert Button on. Type or use dictation to add the desire feet. In the video, Ed typed in 33'.*  To save your new POI, right swipe to the Save button.  Double tap to activate the Save Button.

*O&M Hint: 30 feet is good for sidewalk intersection alerts when the intersections are not close together.  3 feet might be appropriate to mark a specific door of a university classroom building, if the door is physically close to the sidewalk.  Adjust the alert distances to work appropriately with different locations.

Video of Ed demonstrating how to set a Point of Interest on a greenway sidewalk intersection.


Use a Point of Interest

Move to a location within easy walking distance of your POI, but not too close to the POI. Open BlindSquare with VoiceOver running.  The VoiceOver focus should be on the Back button in the top left corner.  Right swipe multiple times or simply drag your finger from the top of the screen down, stopping on My Places.  Open My Places (1 finger double tap). Right swipe stopping on the desired Point Of Interest.  VoiceOver will announce how far the POI is from your current location and will give you a clockface number to indicate which direction the POI is in.  (Example:  In the video, VoiceOver announced "Intersection of bridge and North Cary Park, 215 feet, at 9:00".) Activate the desired POI. Right Swipe to Plan a Route button and activate. Right swipe to your desired map app and activate.  (Ed used Apple Maps.)  You should be on "Walking" mode, not Driving or Transit modes.  Locate and activate the Start button at the bottom center of the page.  (The most efficient way to locate the Start button is to drag your finger at the bottom of the screen.)  Begin walking following the map directions.  VoiceOver will periodically announce the distance and clockface direction of your destination. Listen for the chimes that indicates when you have arrived at your destination.

O&M Hint: Hold the phone flat (parallel to the ground) with the Home button closest to your body.  Point the phone the direction you are traveling.  VoiceOver will announce the direction of the destination using clockface terms; 12:00 is straight ahead.  In the video, VoiceOver announced "9:00", meaning that the destination is ahead and slightly to the left.

Video of Ed demonstrating how to use the POI and how VoiceOver announces the distances and direction as he walks the route.


O&M Hint:  Be sure to completely close BlindSquare when you are done, by going to the App Switcher (press the Home button two times) and swiping up.  If VoiceOver is running, use three fingers to swipe up.  BlindSquare, like all navigation/location apps, will use battery power while it is running in the background.


Posted by Joseph KolbJun 07, 2018

It was instructive to see how Ed used VoiceOver and BlindSquare to locate such a vague destination. It gives me some confidence in this App as having some versatility. I look forward to learning more about its many features.

- Joe Kolb

Posted by Marion MyhreAug 20, 2018

It was helpful to see how Ed used his BlindSquare App to add in his Preferred Places, by using the Favorite button. It will take some practice before I feel comfortable using this App, but I feel more confident that this will not be too difficult. I also liked his comment in the reading, regarding the benefit of introducing your students to these Apps by simply telling them to explore the tool bar, then they can independently get to know the App, while “independently” exploring it on their own terms! Most important, I think we do need to think in the box and feel free to utilize technology as we introduce our students to travel within their community, as well as work sites they might be training in.

Posted by Laurie WrightAug 22, 2018

I didn't hear the 'chimes' from Voice Over when Ed reached the bridge... I kind of wished the video continued with him using the App to return to the POI after going by it...

Posted by Diane BraunerAug 27, 2018

The chime occured at 1:58 in the video clip. In the best case scenario, a GPS app can only get you to a 5 yard radius of the point - it cannot bring you to an exact point. I tell my students that the GPS system will not 'put your hand on the doorknob' - it will bring you to the general area and then YOU have to use your O&M skills to find the doorknob! 

In the video, once you past the Point of Interest, the app will start announcing that the POI is behind you (Example: 7 o'clock)