App makes park nature trail accessible for visually impaired

Strathclyde Country Park
Photo: North Lanarkshire County Council

A new nature trail at Strathclyde Country Park, in Motherwell, Scotland, is now more accessible to people with a visual impairment thanks to a smartphone app.

The myEyes app uses technology to assist individuals with visual impairments and mobility difficulties to move around locations such as museums, shopping malls, parks, stations and airports.

It was developed by Filipe Almeida Silva, a Portuguese neuroscientist based in Lisbon who formed iKi Technologies in Glasgow and Self Energy Ltd, which is based in the UK and Portugal.

The companies worked with the North Lanarkshire County Council’s Greenspace team to apply the app, which was launched several years ago, to a nature trail recently created at the Bellshill Gateway within Strathclyde Country Park.

myEyes guides visitors along the trail, which runs from the gateway site, crosses the South Calder River and takes in the woodland and grassland habitats of Strathclyde Park, and describes the wildlife and features along the route.

The myEyes app can be used in different languages and can be downloaded from the Apple App store:

Convener of Environment and Climate Change Committee at North Lanarkshire Council, Councillor Helen Loughran, said: “The project initiated at Strathclyde Park will contribute to transforming the experience for visually-impaired individuals, enabling them to interact with and understand the natural world around them.

“We are delighted that this wonderful country park is being used to test such innovative technology with impressive and tangible community benefits.”

Ana Sofia Antunes, Secretary of State for the Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities with the Portuguese government, has supported the development of the app and visited Strathclyde Country Park for the launch event.

Also attending was Miguel Matias, CEO of Self Energy Ltd. He said: “This app aims to promote independence, inclusivity, and a renewed sense of engagement with the world.

“It allows visually impaired individuals to explore this captivating trail and comprehend their surroundings within a stimulating natural environment, complete with the serene backdrop of a river and beautiful nature park.”

Elsewhere in Scotland, the app is installed in the V&A, Science Centre, Botanical Garden, a bus route, railway station and other parts of Dundee city centre.