The city of Tampa has implemented a new pilot project with assistive technology company Lazarillo to improve access to select locations for individuals who are blind or visually impaired.
The city and company are working together to create accessible indoor and outdoor maps of public buildings and parks that can be navigated with audio guidance on a smartphone.
The pilot projects will be in place at Old City Hall, the Tampa Municipal Office Building and Julian B. Lane Park, all in downtown Tampa.
Local residents with disabilities have already beta tested the maps to ensure functionality and usefulness in addressing needs among those who are visually impaired or blind.
“My experience with Lazarillo has been great,” said beta tester Janet Bayer. “I use it with my iPhone inside buildings, on sidewalks, and on the bus. I find this application user-friendly, informative, accurate and helpful.”
The product also allows those with mobility disabilities to identify wheelchair-accessible routes and information about accessible restroom facilities.
“One of the biggest battles faced by people with disabilities is the struggle for increased access,” Tampa Mayor Jane Castor said. “Access for people with disabilities improves access for everyone. By implementing Lazarillo, the City of Tampa is taking the next big step in expanding opportunities for diversity and inclusion across City facilities.”
To utilize the new feature, users can download the free Lazarillo app on Google Play or in the App Store. Once downloaded and in place at one of the three mapped locations, the app will open a profile to access a full directory. The directory can be accessed at any time by navigating the “accessible locations” category on the app’s exploration screen.
“I am excited to be working with the city of Tampa and Mayor Jane Castor on our first Florida-based pilot program,” Lazarillo CEO Rene Espinoza said.
Omni Public CEO Cesar Hernandez, who is a lobbyist for Lazarillo, said the project showcases the city’s willingness to work with tech companies in the region.
“These solutions are not only for the city, but potentially for the state and other cities across Florida,” he said.
Lazarillo is an assistive technology startup that aims to break barriers to inclusion with smart technology solutions. The company has worked with businesses and organizations from across the globe to provide mapping platforms and enhance customer experience.