There are 60,000 blind people and 363,000 people with severe visual impairment in New York City (visionsvcb.org). It is a constant challenge for them to navigate through the city and in public spaces, like hospitals, parks, courts, and universities. All the routines that others take for granted – riding the subway, walking down a sidewalk, finding rooms in a building – are challenges for those with reduced or no vision. 

How might we improve access for visually impaired people in public spaces to increase their mobility, safety, and independence?

Tactile Tiles is an ongoing project that builds on a class project from Spring 2018 aiming to develop innovative tactile systems that improve upon present systems. More details on the first version can be found at: bit.ly/OpenIDEO-Tactile

By Spring 2019, the team has built and tested two prototypes – a smart cane that communicates with Google Maps for directions and a tactile tiles/braille combo system that indicates street locations.

For the 2020 academic year, we are looking for one or two more students to join our dynamic team as we continue to iterate and improve on the idea using Design Thinking & Human-Centered Design principles. We are looking for a diverse set of skills and experiences including but not limited to: universal access, design, mechanical, electrical or civil engineering. Expectations are:

  • Willingness to learn Human-Centered Design and tackle the problem with this approach (info on HCD at designkit.org/human-centered-design)
  • A time commitment of 5 hours per week (for research, synthesis, prototyping, user feedback, and team meetings)
  • Participation in our Design Jam, occurring 9/21/19 from 9:30 am – 5:30 pm

Web: dfanyu.com | Email: Nancy: yyc283@nyu.edu and Chloe: cm4902@nyu.edu

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