New app helps blind ‘see' art museum for first time

Tim Spaulding is blind, and he’s doing something you might not expect a person with impaired sight to be able to do: Touring an art museum, thanks to a new app called Blind Square.

The app is kind of like GPS for indoor spaces. At the Bechtler Museum of Art in Charlotte, the app tells Spaulding the layout of the building, and describes the works of art that are in each room, telling him where to turn and what is in front of him.

The app has a computerized voice, just like you might have in your car GPS, but it describes what the inside of a room looks like, in addition to telling Spaulding where to go.

The app gives Spaulding confidence to get out and be independent.

“It means the world,” he said. “I like getting out, I like going places, I like doing things. The more places I can find to go and do stuff, the better.”

Spaulding also says the app helps make vision impaired people feel like they belong, and that can encourage independence and a sense that the community is open to them as well.

Said Spaulding, “The more things that are available to vision impaired people, the more routine it becomes, the more they are out of their house, the more they are walking on the streets.”