Over the past year, I have incorporated using the Transloc Transit iOS App, which serves the Raleigh, North Carolina public bus system (GoRaleigh), with my low vision students to identify their destination bus stop (whether it be familiar or unfamiliar) and pull the chord to signal driver to stop. I must say that I also have my students solicit assistance from the driver to let him/her off at the requested stop and use this method as a supplement. I always want my students to use as many tools as possible to assure a successful bus trip. We do discuss how drivers can forget and this will give them more power, independence, and peace of mind that they have some control in signaling the bus to let them off at the correct stop.
To get to this point in the curriculum, students have been planning routes to destination locations. I have begun incorporating tactile maps on to using the IPHONE map, more specifically through the Transloc app, to find destination bus stops along a route. Students have also spent time learning the basic features of the Transloc app.
- In the picture you will see the student has pulled up the R-line route on the Go Raleigh bus system which is a circulator around the downtown area of Raleigh. The shape of the route is relatively circular with two buses, designated as red circles with white triangles, traveling along the route.
***I always have the students turn on the IPHONE’s GPS by clicking the white arrow within the green square up in the top right corner of the app. The IPHONE’s GPS shows up as a blue dot with rings extending. The reason I do this is that I have found the bus GPS will lag at certain points which could cause the traveler to miss the timing to pull the chord. The IPHONE’s GPS is constant very precise. Also, sometimes the bus’s GPS is not turned on therefore nothing shows on the maps but if the IPHONE’s GPS is on the blue dot will move along as the traveler is sitting on the bus.
- The student uses the Transloc app to blow up the map in the area/bus stop where he/she is standing and check to see the estimated time of arrival of the bus (triangle). The IPHONE’s GPS was not turned on yet for the picture below, otherwise it would mark the student at the stop (red dot) located on the point near the middle of the picture. The bus is two stops away.
- The student, knowing the bus is approaching, gets ready (has cane visible, faces direction of bus approaching, stands next to bus stop pole) to non-verbally let the driver know he/she desires to take the bus.
- As the student boards the bus, he/she solicits assistance from the driver to let them off at desired stop and also for open seats in the front. The student then pulls out his/her IPHONE and locates the desired stop along the route and blows it up to a size that is visible but also provides space to identify the bus/IPHONE’s GPS approaching. In the picture, the desired bus stop has been enlarged to a size the student can see which takes up most of the screen.
- The student must focus all attention on the IPHONE and not get distracted as he/she waits for the GPS bubble to come onto the screen which would just before the desired bus stop. As the dot comes onto the screen (blue dot---IPHONE GPS) the student pulls the chord to signal driver for the stop. Hopefully the driver is already beginning to stop knowing he needs to let the student off at the stop requested verbally when entering the bus. If not, again the student now has the accessible information to make the decision for him/herself. On familiar routes, I point out visual landmarks that can be seen but have also found this method to be easier as the landmarks may be missed but the phone is right in the students hand with the student in control. The method also works for unfamiliar stops where the visually impaired rider has no prior landmarks to go by and doesn’t know the visuals at the bus stop he/she is exiting. The stop represented virtually on the IPHONE is the desired stop where the student simply has to identify on the IPHONE and pull the chord as the IPHONE GPS (blue dot) approaches. I’m sure there are many other ways to provide this information and maybe newer apps that provide these functions. This is something I came up with by problem solving with what I had at the time. My students have really appreciated the benefit and are amazed at how technology helps them even when they need to pull a chord to get off at a bus stop they can’t see or have never been.
Editor's Note: The Transloc Transit App is accessible with VoiceOver. The Transloc Transit App is also available for Android smart phones.