'Information is power' | Stockland Wetherill Park uses app to help vision-impaired shoppers

Ben Moxey, who is vision impaired and uses a white cane, had the opportunity to test
BindiMaps recently.
Ben Moxey, who is vision impaired and uses a white cane, had the opportunity to test BindiMaps recently.

Stockland Wetherill Park is the first large indoor public space using the BindiMaps app - a new way for people who are blind or vision- impaired to experience large, indoor spaces.

The app provides navigation in indoor locations, like shopping centres, by using a network of Bluetooth beacons installed throughout the environment. BindiMaps applies everyday language to guide users via their smart phones to their destinations.

Essentially the app is like a Google Maps for indoors and is a game-changer for those who are vision-impaired.

BindiMaps has developed the app with the help and expert advice of Guide Dogs NSW/ACT, Vision Australia and many users who are blind or have low vision.

Ben Moxey, who is vision impaired and uses a white cane, had the opportunity to test BindiMaps at the shopping centre during its installation.

"Information is power. It's been great to experience the way an app like BindiMaps provides additional information about the environment I'm moving through," he said.

"It's helped me navigate to specific locations like shops and facilities with more ease and accessibility."

Stockland identified Wetherill Park as a pilot location following research investigating the key challenges of the shopping centre experience for vision-impaired customers.

BindiMaps founder Dr Anna Wright said the app "completely changes" the way people with a vision impairment can safely and independently access indoor spaces.

"Before BindiMaps, a person with vision impairment would need significant help from others to be able to do something most of us take for granted, accessing our local shopping centre," she said.

"But now, even someone whose sight is very limited or non-existent can find their way around much more independently, even if they are unfamiliar with the space."

Stockland Regional Retail Manager Chris Travers said the innovative wayfinding system will open up a "whole new world" of discovery for customers with a vision impairment.

"...Bridging the gap between a large indoor public space and the barriers to going there in the first place," he said.

"It removes significant pain points for people with a vision impairment when navigating a shopping centre - from locating entry/exit points and amenities to finding new or relocated stores."

Guide Dogs NSW/ACT Access Coordinator Jennifer Moon said BindiMaps provides "another layer" of information to assist with independent orientation in addition to the services they provide.