Improving the World of Mobility for the Visually-Impaired and Blind
Passio has chosen to partner with a company that is doing big things in our world. FAR (Foresight Augmented Reality) is helping to build smart cities for the visually impaired and blind through a combination of the FAR Vision Smartphone app, bluetooth beacons, and backend systems. This is a life changing service for the blind and visually impaired community and we believe that working FAR into our Passio GO app is only going to broaden our horizons and better serve our customers. I sat down with Mitch Skyer, President, to discuss the benefits of this partnership:
K: How does FAR work with Passio GO and what can passengers expect from this integration?
MS: FAR is a separate application that’s integrated with Passio’s data and real-time passenger information. It allows the passenger to get a link from Passio GO for access through the FAR application. The FAR application gives you the full experience if you’re visually impaired or blind so you’re not forced to use a sighted application. FAR takes our application (Passio GO), by using our data and information through a full integration on the back end, and gives the visually impaired customer the access and ability to utilize the same data as a sighted passenger.
K: Why has Passio chosen to partner with FAR?
MS: 1) They are local. 2) They have two pretty stellar leaders. The two are owners and founders of the company. One gentleman is blind so he has that vested interest in their mission. The other leader, Chris Webb, has a real commitment to Atlanta, to the visually-impaired community, and to the world. And even better, he’s someone who is really focused on improving people’s situations. It is our understanding that this is a community that has often been swindled by companies that have provided inferior products. We’re doing this as an add-on to our existing product, not to overcharge, but to give a more complete solution to our customers who are serving a huge community, part of which is visually-impaired.
K: How is FAR integration with the Passio GO app positively impacting the world?
MS: Well, it is the first time we’ve taken a step like this where we have focused on a specific group of people who can benefit beyond just the knowledge of transportation and operations. It is important and it benefits the community by reducing greenhouse gases, improving the environment, improving mobility for the masses, and even improving their experience at a university, a city, and an airport level. We have been an aggressively growing company, so we haven’t had a chance to stop and take a look at where else we can help. We have been helping our community very strongly in several ways, but we haven’t been able to stop and say, “Okay, how can we help a group that maybe isn’t as big, but has a very targeted need?”
This opportunity came through somewhat of a chance meeting, but we’d been thinking about it for a long time (about how to improve the Passio GO experience, etc.) and when the opportunity arose through meeting one of the folks from FAR, we were able to let that idea take off. But it didn’t start that way. It started with a conversation about how we’re all in the mobility space- but once we began to understand what they did and how important their efforts were, it just seemed like the next step.
We are now at a point as a mature enough company where we can take our ideas and we can apply them to solving bigger problems. The positive impact is that it makes us a better company and a stronger business. It makes us do better for people who need that assistance, and it makes us learn more about the world at large and another group of people whom we hadn’t known so well. We have never had direct experience with the visually impaired and blind community and now we do. And it makes us a stronger company when we serve all of our passengers.
K: There is a lot of talk about accessibility nowadays- do you believe that Passio is at the forefront of making technology and mobility accessible to everyone?
MS: I think there’s no doubt we are at the forefront. We haven’t had the opportunity before, but we have always been considerate of people who have special needs, whatever they are, to use our systems, although it’s been incremental. This is the first leap we’ve taken to being at the forefront. When we advise our clients, we tell them not only about what is required by law, but what is expected by the passengers. We try to guide them to make sure that hearing impaired or visually impaired people can understand what’s happening onboard the bus as well as behind the scenes. We are lucky to now have a partnership with a company that specializes in this. They are leading the industry and are helping people who are opening restaurants, building cities, and opening business locations around the world make their venues accessible for the visually-impaired. Together we are taking that one step further. We are making sure that those people can get access to the transportation that we all pay for, that is provided to everyone.
We want to be able to say to them, “Let’s make sure that you can get to these transportation locations in a timely manner. Let’s make sure you know when the bus is coming, and we can safely direct you right to the bus stop.” That way they don’t miss the bus, because they’re in the wrong place. We can also ensure that they have the knowledge of what’s going to happen so that they can conduct their lives, because they already have enough challenges. We can help reduce those daily challenges a little bit more.
I don’t want to overstate our abilities, but we are doing whatever little bit we can do to improve the trials that the visually-impaired community already faces. I think it is our duty and our responsibility to make that contribution. It’s not only the right thing to do as a company, but the right thing to do as people in a community.
K: Thank you for all of your knowledge Mitch.
If you are interested in learning more about FAR technology, please visit their website: https://www.foresightar.com/