An app restoring independence and control to a visually impaired woman, with Ruby Steel.

Shamreen’s story

Shamreen is a young woman who lives just outside London with her two sons and husband. She was born with cone dystrophy which is an inherited ocular disorder characterized by the loss of cone cells which are the photoreceptors responsible for both central and colour vision. Shamreen has been visually impaired since birth with the particular difficulty that this condition is variable according to light levels. This means that outside in the bright light Shamreen struggles to see, whereas indoors where she can control and dim the light levels, her sight is slightly improved.

As a consequence, many outdoor tasks are immeasurably harder, such as taking her boys to see their granny or going to the park. Despite being an independent mother, Shareen finds obstacles such as uneven pavements, low walls and lamp posts to be a serious hindrance.

How can Big Life Fix help?

Aids for the visually impaired such as white canes can feel stigmatising and rather than being defined by her visual impairment, Shamreen wants to be seen as the able and independent woman she is. Ruby Steel and Big Life Fix Team arrived at a solution to avoid unnecessary obstacles and hindrances and the Mettle team supported this solution by building an app that was forward thinking, responsive but above all customisable so that the control remained with Shamreen.

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What is Breadcrumbs?

Breadcrumbs is an app that alerts Shamreen when she is near an obstacle such as a low wall or uneven pavement. Each alarm can be set by Shamreen herself by geo-tagging a location and recording an audio of her own voice specifying the nature of the obstacle and the steps required to avoid it. Each time she nears that obstacle the alarm will sound and play back her reminder.

Once the tags have been set Shamreen can simply open the app and put her phone in her pocket or handbag. The app is effectively interfaceless and so by using Bluetooth discreet headphones Shamreen can listen to her audio reminders hands-free, leaving both hands available to look after her boys when taking them out and about. The interface has been designed with high contrasting colours and big buttons for easy visibility.

How has Breadcrumbs helped Shamreen?

Breadcrumbs has given Shamreen the extra confidence she needs to be an independent mother. By having her own reminders geo-tagged along the way, she can slow down and change direction as necessary to ensure she avoids problems. The app reinforces her own memory of the route and allows her to walk independently, thus restoring a measure of control of her life.

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