Sendero Group Travel Blog

Follow Sendero travelers on their adventures using accessible GPS.

Saturday, March 29, 2014


testing two GPS systems in Paris by Mike May

Just walked about 4 miles back to our apartment in Paris alone using the PK GPS and a test version of the Seeing Eye GPS. Interesting to see the strengths of each.

I used a combination of a pedestrian route and getting warmer to my destination. Because in both cases we have an English synthesizer pronouncing French street names, it was hard to confirm that I was in fact on the street I was supposed to be on. As long as my destination was roughly at 12 o'clock, I knew I would get there one way or another.

I was pleasantly surprised when the iPhone told me to take the stairs to a bridge over the Seine. That was not in the PK instructions although it did tell me to cross the bridge.

Once I got within 200 metres of my destination, I got tangled in some small streets. The GPS kept flicking in and out and I was being told to turn around a lot. I just relied on the Getting Warmer mode on the PK and eventually found my way to my destination.

It was really helpful to have a Braille display to deal with understanding the French street names.

Bottom line, it was pretty darn cool to get myself in one piece 4 miles through busy Paris 100% on my own to my destination. I think I now deserve a glass of wine.


Congratulations Mike, That's awesome!
I have a question that may not be totally related to GPS, but hope you don't mind me asking.
As someone who is confident on routes I am shown with guide dogs association here in Australia, but has not yet had much experience travelling on my own without prior training, and as you yourself travel alone in unfamiliar areas, but also in another country, how do you deal with road crossings? I mean knowing how wide they are. especially ones you've never crossed before.
I just find that is one barrier to getting out more on my own without prior training. I am a cane user and have very limited vision and I tend to veer a lot when crossing roads, I try to stay as straight as possible, but doesn't always work and whilst I get across safely, I sometimes do notice I veer.
I guess what I really want to know is, how do you deal with road crossings you've never seen before, when you aren't sure exactly how busy or large they are?
You raise very important points. You always want to be safe and that means making sure the GPS does not distract you from mobility issues. It is essential that you learn the details of GPS orientation while using virtual mode and while in a car or bus.
Walking around on your own is the most advanced stage. It is wise to pay attention to the GPS while stopped at a corner or sitting on a bus bench, not while crossing a street.

Keep in mind that I have been doing this since 1995, traveling and using GPS. I can use it safely on the move and yet I am still cautious.

I not embarrassed to go sighted guide. It is fun to be the navigator while the sighted person deals with mobility. Rather fun teamwork.

A good GPS student will learn the tricks of the GPS trade while not being challenged by mobility issues. Then you can put the two together. Have fun and be safe above all.
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