Carleton University is launching a new pilot project to help students navigate the underground tunnel system.

The app Key 2 Access uses Bluetooth navigation beacons to send location alerts.  

The navigational beacons are at key intersections along the tunnel to guide visually and mobility impaired students along the way. Audio will indicate entrances into buildings, corners, ramps, or accessible washrooms.

There are also directional markers along the tunnel.

Dean Mellway is with Carleton’s READ Initiative (Research, Education, Accessibility and Design). He is part of the group launching the pilot project.

He says it will help a lot of students at Carleton. “Students with disabilities especially those with visual impairment study their route with guides, but this will make it so much easier for them and to know when you are off your beaten path.”

Mellway says, “People with a disability where they might lose orientation and concentration- this will help them have a check point.”

The app also alerts people of a possible obstacle such as ramps or stairs.

The pilot project is solely on one area of the tunnels until the end of term. If the test is successful, the hope is to extend the program throughout the whole tunnel system.

Mellway says Carleton is one of the most accessible universities in Canada but the tunnel system was flagged as a challenging area.

He says the community has come as long when it comes to being accessible, but there is still more room to improve. “Big thing is we are seeing is a change in attitude more people with disability are integrating into the community and so more people are aware of that.”