Students with visual impairments at the Tennessee School for the Blind (TSB) are finding it easier to get around the campus and classrooms on their own with the help of their new, custom app running on an iPad tablet.
The TSB 360 app features nearly 50 360-degree panoramic images of the classrooms, residential cottages and other campus spaces that enables people with visual impairments to ‘teleport in’ to experience a space as if they were in the middle: looking up or down – left or right. The immersive experience is possible because of how the app leverages the motion-sensing technology in the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch mobile devices.
“The TSB 360 app – powered by TourWrist – gives our students with visual impairments freedom, independence and confidence to travel the campus,” said TSB Outreach Technology Consultant (and legally blind) Douglas Walker. “The students love it! It’s a kinesthetic learning experience for the students. The hands-on virtual tour of the campus helps enable our students to be independent in a sighted-world.”
“The TSB 360 app is also used to help potential students (and their families) tour the TSB campus prior to visiting in person,” said Walker. “Plus, since the app is available free in the Apple iTunes App Store, it’s another way for us to share with more than 50 schools for the blind nationally and internationally how the Tennessee School for the Blind is leveraging cutting-edge technology to help make the world accessible to people with visual impairments. We recently acquired 50 iPad 2 tablets for the School. Our fun and easy-to-use TSB 360 app is another way that our students will use these iPads.”
Nashville based 360PanoramaTours.com Chief Photographer Chuck Thompson first proposed the use of the 360-degree images to help students with visual impairments navigate the campus. Thompson shot all the 360-degree panoramic images for the TSB 360 app pro bono. “It’s so exciting to see the students’ reaction to the 360-degree campus images.”
“It’s nice to be able to share my passion for 360-degree photography with the students to help them connect to the world around them,” says Thompson. “I anticipate adding 360º ‘field trip’ images to the TSB app so students and staff can orient themselves to spaces prior to their visit: for example, the Tennessee Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped and the Schermerhorn Symphony Center.”
San Francisco based TourWrist, a mobile and web-based virtual tour company, created the custom TSB 360 app. The company offers identical, localized versions of the TSB 360 app to schools for the blind worldwide at a special, non-commercial custom app rate.
“Helping make the world accessible by visually impaired students, staff, alumni and guests at the Tennessee School for the Blind is a gratifying experience,” said TourWrist CEO & Founder Charles Armstrong. “It’s terrific how the TourWrist virtual tour platform can be used in such diverse ways in travel, real estate, entertainment, law enforcement and education. TourWrist enables everyone to preview places before they visit; enhancing the planning and decision making process. It’s exciting that TourWrist can give the visually impaired the confidence to travel independently by enabling them to ‘go-there-before-they-go-there.’”
The Wonder Room at the Tennessee School for the Blind • TourWrist Panorama by 360PanoramaTours.com Photographer Chuck Thompson