Governor Kasich

Governor John Kasich spoke at the launch of the BlindSquare technology at Columbus State Community College.


Columbus State student Patrick Simmons demonstrates how a smart phone app helps him navigate the campus.

Governor John Kasich, Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities (OOD) and Columbus State Community College announced on July 30 that Columbus State is the first community college in the nation to offer BlindSquare, an innovative navigation support system for blind and low-vision students at its downtown campus.

Through OOD funding, the college is now navigable by smart phone technology through the free BlindSquare Event app, which utilize Bluetooth technology and GPS beacons at key locations on campus. The BlindSquare beacons interact with the app to guide users by supportive audio instructions around the school and to adjacent public transit.

Governor Kasich, OOD Director Kevin Miller and Columbus State President David Harrison announced the collaboration, which makes it easier for individuals with vision impairments and other wayfinding disabilities to successfully pursue higher education and career advancement.

“Universities and community colleges across this state ought to fund this immediately,” Kasich said. “There is a lot of progress that can be made, but we’ve got to do this together and make sure this is just the beginning. With Columbus State here, you’re looking at the future of education.”

BlindSquare works by determining a user’s location using smart phone GPS capabilities and looking up information about the surrounding environment, which at Columbus State is provided by a series of beacons around campus and in select buildings. After finding directional information, the app speaks in a clear, synthetic voice. It can track the user’s destination and periodically announce the distance and direction while traveling, as well as mark locations so they can be found more easily later on.

“Embracing technology that supports assisting those with disability challenges is rapidly becoming the norm,” Miller said. “Innovative approaches to removing barriers are necessary in this age of technology. OOD’s partnership with Columbus State is a standard for which others should follow.”

“Columbus State is proud to be a leader in serving people with disabilities among our students, faculty, staff and visitors,” Harrison said. “Incorporating BlindSquare functionality advances our commitment to inclusion while furthering accessibility for anyone who can benefit from location and directional support.”

To find out more about how OOD is transforming lives of individuals with disabilities through technology, visit BlindSquare Fact Sheet or see a video of the event at the Ohio Channel.