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By NORA HESTON TARTE
For those who are blind or visually impaired, public transit is often necessary. However, navigating the bus schedules and reading maps offers a different complication.
To provide a solution, the San Joaquin Regional Transit District (RTD) launched Talk to Me Maps, audio and tactile maps of transit boarding areas.
The new technology aims to make navigating RTD’s system easier for those who are blind or visually impaired. Using Braille, a large-print map and a talking smart pen, visually impaired riders will be able to familiarize themselves with the boarding areas and be given verbal cues as to where to board the bus.
“It will provide a wonderful orientation tool for folks who are blind or visually impaired to familiarize them with each of the transit systems included,” said Joni Bauer, orientation and mobility specialist at Community Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired, who helped spearhead the initiative.
At least four transit stations — Manteca, Lodi, Tracy Multi-Modal and Downtown Stockton — will have the Talk to Me Maps equipment available for checkout.
RTD partnered with several agencies for the visually impaired to bring the Talk to Me Maps system to San Joaquin County.
“Everyone at RTD is thrilled to work with our friends at CCBVI, Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired, and our sister transit agencies to make life a little easier for those traveling throughout San Joaquin County,” said RTD CEO Donna DeMartino in a press release. “This program will make ‘The Places You Can Go on RTD!’ even more accessible than before.”