Metro unveils new app for visually impaired

Metro map. (NewsChannel 8 photo)

WASHINGTON (NewsChannel 8) – Getting around is about to get a little easier for people in the D.C. area who are visually impaired.

On Friday, Metro unveiled a new smartphone app and website designed to help passengers navigate through Metrorail stations.

The ClickAndGo app not only gives you turn-by-turn directions, it will warn you about a cement barrier or escalator nearby. The District is the first city putting it to the test.

Navigating D.C.'s Metro system is daunting for the average person, but for Olivia Norman it can be downright dangerous.

"They have multiple lines, multiple places you can potentially transfer," Norman said, clutching the leash of her service dog.

That's where Joe Cioffi, a teacher for the visually and hearing impaired, came up with the idea.

"There's a lot of anxiety for someone who's without vision on a rush hour center platform," he explained.

The ClickAndGo app maps out your physical surroundings, including hazards, and will even tell you how many steps you are from your destination.

The CEO of Columbia Lighthouse for the Blind says the demand for this kind of app is growing.

"We have 158 million baby boomers. And as we're aging, vision is one of the leading things that we have to be concerned about," said Tony Cancelosi.

Right now the app is only available for the Gallery Place Chinatown station, which includes a total of 100 different routes. But the goal is to expand it to all Metro stops in the near future.

Norman and her dog, Nora, have been testing the new app since August.

"It's amazing how it's gonna change everything! It's a game changer," she said.

Metro is offering this app to anyone for free, but it isn't available on iTunes just yet. Metro is waiting for the registration to be approved. But in the meantime, you can check out the ClickAndGo website.

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