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Our Goal

Blind and low-vision travelers use apps such as Microsoft Soundscape and Blindsquare to build a richer awareness of their surroundings, thus becoming more confident and empowered to get around. Unlike step-by-step navigation apps such as Google Maps, Soundscape uses 3D audio cues to enrich ambient awareness and provide a new way to relate to the environment. These apps make it easy to control their features by re-purposing the regular media controls (play/pause, rewind and forward) to give important information on-demand while commuting. Though these can be invoked using media controls on headphones, it may be not as hassle free to stop using one’s cane and tap these controls while on the move.

With this, we were inspired to create an ‘Around Me’ sets of buttons that enable blind and low-vision travelers to conveniently access the functions of these app and their phone with the click of these buttons. These buttons could also potentially be clamped to the cane.

This project is jointly co-created by Jazz Ang, Ana Liu & Venkatesh Potluri.

Overview of Accessibility Buttons

In these set of instructables, you would be creating the following six buttons:

Play/Pause (of media player and videos)

When Microsoft Soundscape is on the background, this button will start (or pause) the synthesised binaural audio, such as the heartbeating audio cues from Soundscape, and audio notifications of where the user is. The play/pause works by activating with the media player running on the background.

Mute Volume

This button mute (and unmute) the volume.


When Soundscape is on the background, it describes points of interest in front of you, for example when walking down the street. On music/video player, the button plays the next song or video.


Likewise, this button plays past places of interest on Soundscape and plays the previous song or video.


This button acts as the home button on your phone, it directs users back to the main home screen.

Switch Control

This button will be connected to the iOS switch control options that could be configured to serve as the button to select on the switch control mode. This will be set up later.

Adafruit Feather NRF52 Bluefruit
Full-sized breadboard
6 x Tactile button switches
10K ohm resistors”

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