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RightHear is Israel’s ‘Waze for the Blind’

RightHear

RightHear is an Israeli startup that uses sound to help blind people “see.” The company’s tech was used at Israel’s Knesset as part of its official ceremonies marking international “Blind Day.”

Every morning in prayers, Jews recite a blessing thanking God for “opening the eyes of the blind.” The Talmud asks if a blind person should recite this blessing given that the blind cannot actually see. The answer is – yes they should. This is because sighted people help the blind to get around and “see” the world around them. And so, RightHear is doing just that in fulfillment of the spirit of this blessing.

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As Israel marked “Blind Day,” the Knesset launched a new audio guidance system, one of the many accessibility facilities and initiatives in use in the parliament complex. The personalized audio guidance is a product developed by RightHear, an Israeli start-up company, and is being employed to assist the blind, visually impaired individuals, and people with orientation difficulties to navigate the Knesset premises effectively.

Founded in 2015, RightHear is an “advanced accessibility solution” that uses the a three component technology to help grant blind and visually impaired individuals the independence “they deserve by providing them with tools to better orient themselves in public spaces.” The company states that its vision of making the world more accessible to all individuals is closer than ever before, with nearly 3,000 accessible spots in over 600 venues (and counting) across the globe. Some the firm’s partners include The Azrieli Group, Chicago French Market, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, McDonald’s Israel, Shufersal Supermarket Company and Tel Aviv University.

RightHear’s solution works both indoors and outdoors. It’s supportive of any industry, sector, or size of venue, from a Safari Park to a university campus to a hotel to a local eatery, and everything in between.

RightHear is a free app available for its users on both iOS and Android.

The special event of solidarity for the blind and visually impaired community, took place at the Knesset building, considered to be one of the most accessible parliaments in the world. The hundreds of guests enjoyed using the successful navigation system for the blind in the Knesset, through the “RightHear” app. The company recently completed a fundraising round led by the international impact fund, Menomadin Foundation.

“The innovative system that helps make the Knesset accessible includes a management and control module and approximately 55 sensors operating on Bluetooth, scattered throughout points of interest in the complex,” explained Sharon Cohen, Head of Systems and Applications in the Technology and Computing Division of the Knesset. “Through a dedicated and free application on the user’s personal phone, individuals with disabilities can navigate the Knesset premises. When arriving at a point of interest or a junction, the user can receive information about the location they reached and information about the eight directions the phone points to. Additionally, at the specific point of interest, the user can call for assistance from a nearby usher and access further extensive information about that point of interest, such as the Declaration of Independence and Knesset plenary sessions.”

Experts at RightHear explained that the system connects a dedicated mobile application to strategically placed wireless beacons in public spaces and accessibility points. It provides audio descriptions of the environment and directly transmits them to smartphones or tablets. This is how the system enables blind individuals, visually impaired individuals, or those with difficulty orienting themselves to navigate independently and experience the world securely. “The Menomadin Foundation has invested in our audio signage system,” explained the Israeli company, “which allows individuals with visual impairments and blindness to use the application for free, tailored to all mobile devices, alongside constant updates and development of the application.”

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