I didn't start learning to ride until May 2010 and for the entire summer of that year was injured. My first year of riding was not that solid but since April last year, I've not missed a ride. I can walk, sit and rise trot, canter, and have started learning transitions and diagonals on a variety of horses. Come and join me on my adventures with my horsey friends all done with no sight on my part. don't feel afraid to ask me any questions. being blind and a horse rider is new, interesting and very exciting. So I hope you can gain something from reading this.

Friday, 6 July 2012

Could Technology Help Me in A School?

I've used an iPhone for three years now. Until recently it was the only product on the market with a built in screen reader, meaning I could use the phone, out of the box, with no further charges to me as a consumer. Sure, they're slightly more expensive, but if I had bought a nokia that could have run Talks or Mobile speak, the screen readers that ran on those Simbine 60 or 80 series, it would have probably cost me around the same price for an iPhone. I advocate mainstream products building in accessibility and Apple have done a great job with this. What does this have to do with riding you ask? Well, many GPS apps are out there now and some are pretty nifty in the way you can mark "favourites". I've used one particular app, designed for the blind to help me merely get to the yard. I don't use Bailey as you all know going to my current riding school, so I have to use the cane. There was a point I always would get lost on and end up taking the wrong dirt track to my riding school and getting lost. But Ariadni helped with this. There is a bush I have to square up against to get the lane that takes me to my riding school, I marked the bush as a favourite and also marked the path so I know when it beeps at me, I'm on the right path. I only needed this for a while, I can now do the route without my GPS app. Minus the bus stops but that's another unrelated issue. I had an idea while I was sitting here today. These apps use satellite navigation and coordinates in a lot of situations, and so if I went on a hack with someone, couldn't I essentially plan out the route with the iPhone assisting me. That is why I was asking about the Protecting your iPhone on Hay Net I would never try to ride alone unless there was a protected hack route on land I was totally familiar with. And that is a mile away in the future. But this idea got me thinking again. I'm not sure this is possible with current GPS apps, as the size of a school is not that big but could an App be developed to help a blind person learn the school? I'd love to try and see if the GPS apps I know of currently that support the favourites feature could do this but I highly suspect the area is too small for the app to map out, essentially a school and guide the blind user around from letter to letter to learn the school. Those people skilled at these things may have a better idea but I was just thinking to myself, could the iPhone, a piece of technology that has revolutionised my mobility life along with Bailey assist me in horse riding too? Could an app be designed to teach a blind user a visual area like a riding menage and map out all the letters of an arena or needed, skipping way ahead, help them judge a jumping course through feedback of a GPS app? Visualising for blind people is not that easy so we need cues from our other senses, in this case sound. As many have told me, blind riders get to know the school layout in Dressage with someone calling from each letter or someone telling you what letter you are at? But what happens when you're alone and practicing, you and your horse? Could technology then assist? I'm very curious of this idea. I know its all a little rambled but I'm just throwing curiosities out there. :) Thanks, Marie


  1. I think this is something we should ask @equigeek AKA Terri about - you never know she might have a solution. Wouldn't that be exciting?!

  2. Marie I think you're on to something here. Check the apps you use which are designed to assist blind people (any such app) look up the designers/developers, and contact them with your idea!! With the stuff they seem to create nowadays I can't think why this wouldn't be possible!! Maybe they could make one where you feed in the exact coordinates? I'm no teccie but this is definitely worth a try :) Great thinking!

  3. Oh this is a great idea, I do have some questions though. Marie, have you ever played music? How many auditory cues can you follow at the same time? Could 2/3 be possible? Do you use earphones when you're riding? (not likely but just asking for possibility of stereo cues).
    These may sound like odd requests, but we think this is very possible! Thanks for asking!

  4. Thanks Lorraine for tweeting this on Twitter. OnTopOfSpag, I have indeed already asked a friend of mine who works for LookTell who are about to release a GPS app. She kindly emailed me and said, along the lines of her app, she doesn't think this is quite possible yet. not because of the app development but because of the feedback from the GPS transmitters and such in the skies. As I suspected, getting within 10 Feet or less is not currently possible but she has assured me her company is currently looking into ways to make this more accurate so the prospect is a possible one in the near future from her point of view.
    Terri, I played the recorder but am not particularly musically gifted. However, I play a lot of audio games so can follow a multiple of different sounds through headphones. Right now, I don't usually carry the phone but there are those headphones now that do the whole bone conducting thing that I've been threatening to get for when I'm out with Bailey as I don't like having things obstructing my ears for safety reasons when out. So those could be used in place of traditional headphones. I hope if it is not yet possible, it will be. Technology has come a long way and it would be ace to think something like this could help in yet another area of visually impaired people's lives. It would open up not only learning menages for riders but layouts of other sporting areas to. Thanks for the input guys. :)