GPS stands for Global Positioning System. Talking GPS systems can be useful tools when you are out and about. In addition to your cane or Seeing Eye dog, a talking GPS can assist you to work out where you are, where you want to go and how to get there.
It takes practice and we recommend you seek advice and training from an Orientation and Mobility Specialist to make the most out of this technology. Here is some more information about GPS for people who are blind or have low vision.
How GPS systems work
GPS is a satellite-based navigation system. The system works in any weather conditions, anywhere in the world, 24 hours a day. Accuracy to a person's exact location is somewhere in the region of ten metres.
The satellites in space circle the earth twice a day in a very precise orbit and transmit signal information to earth. GPS receivers take this information from different satellites at any one time and calculate the user's exact location.
Once the user's position has been determined, the GPS unit can calculate location, speed, bearing, track trip distance, distance to destination, and more, which is then displayed on the units' electronic map.
Accessible GPS systems
GPS receivers in general are not accessible by individuals who are blind or have low vision. Several companies have developed software which uses their own equipment to access the map information displayed on a GPS receiver and speaks or displays the information in braille.
Users can receive information about the relative positions of nearby points of interest. The software can tell the user which direction to go to reach a target location and identify points of interest along the way.
Users can program personalised travel routes and favorite spots, as well as use millions of points of interest supplied with the system. Electronic maps are available for Australia and other countries around the world.
Because a person who is blind or with low vision needs to purchase the GPS receiver as well as the software to get the information from the GPS receiver, talking GPS systems can be relatively expensive.
Several accessible GPS systems are available in Australia. Most of these systems require not only the GPS receiver, but an accessible portable notetaker on which the special GPS software runs. \
There are two standalone accessible GPS units available on the market. They are the Kapten Plus GPS and the Trekker Breeze.
If you use an iPhone or iPad, you can download some user friendly GPS apps that work well. These apps do not always provide the level of detail you might need when walking around in an unfamiliar environment, in which case the Trekker Breeze or Kapten Plus may be the preferred option.
For more information, contact your local Vision Australia centre or visit our online Equipment Solutions store.
This product listing does not constitute an endorsement of these products by Vision Australia. Prices are approximates only.
For further details phone Vision Australia on 1300 84 74 66.