AccessWay- for a more inclusive subway

Challenge: Honorable Mention

Accessway's pilot program will be coming soon in 2014! Send us your email (, if you would like to be notified when it arrives.

AccessWay is a mobile way-finding app that assists the blind and visually impaired with(in) navigating the MTA Subway system. It incorporates both Bluetooth Low Energy(BLE) Smart Sensor and Wi-Fi technologies. The BLE sensors talk to a user's device and delivers audio messages regarding their surroundings - such as which platform the user is on, where the nearest exits are, and general directions from point A to point B inside the station. This information is based on the user's current location and current direction. The Wi-Fi technology is used to provide up-to-the minute train arrival times and service change advisories. The app is designed to work with Apple's built-in voiceover accessibility features.

AccessWay works in 3 separate circumstances.

  1. Station is equipped with both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth Smart (BLE) sensor technology: User will receive both in-station way-finding messaging along with train arrival times and service advisories.

  2. Station is equipped with only Wi-Fi and no Bluetooth Smart (BLE) sensors: Only train arrival times and service advisories will be available.

  3. Station has installed Bluetooth Smart (BLE) sensors but no Wi-Fi: User will receive in-station way-finding messaging.


12 months ago

I was there on Sunday. Great job. Think about adding train arrival time for the visually impaired. Here is the link to the NYCT native Subway Time app ( Would be great if a similiar app had an text-to-speech component.

12 months ago

Tom, thank you for the constructive feedback. While overnighting at the hackathon venue, I contacted Vanessa Rose, VP of Marketing at Newark-based speech-text technology firm iSpeech, about whether they have a text-to-speech 'library' in addition to the speech-recognition algorithms they developed for their app Talkz they presented at TechCrunch Disrupt last week. During the conference, they mentioned they have an API in the works, though with no specified launch date yet.

We will be testing the app in real-life use cases over the coming weeks. In addition, CollabFinder and NYC Big Apps will be hosting a Cleanweb developer day for open hacking Saturday 18 May, during which we will implement changes based on feedback gathered.

12 months ago

That is great. I believe there is a real need for this. Let me know if you need any help in interpreting the data and let me know when you have a working prototype.

You guys picked an important problem to solve.

12 months ago

Congrats guys--a very worthwhile app! Will be following its progress... Be in touch if the add requested to Subways Elev/Esc feed by your group yesterday is made.

12 months ago

Candace and Tom, thank you very much for your offers to help us transform the demonstration prototype into a minimum viable (and 'awesome', as Kaaren Hanson at Intuit would argue) product.

If you are able to join us at Cleanweb open hack day (18 May), that would be very much appreciated.

12 months ago

Sorry no can do. Will be at my nephew's graduation from University of West Virginia.

12 months ago

Tom, please say congrats to your nephew on our behalf.

12 months ago

sure thanks. What you are doing is really important.

12 months ago

Hi Yangbo D,
Please let the group know that at this time, the MTA cannot add a unique identifier (MRN number or station ID) to the Elevator Escalator data feed. The E&E feed as well as others here are currently being reviewed for standardization, but everything is currently a manual and time-consuming process. Sorry, will keep you posted if anything changes.

12 months ago

Hi Candice,

Thanks for replying. This is Michael Sanderson, I was the developer who worked on the part making the "service status" information compatible with the iPhone screenreader VoiceOver. (To everyone- sorry I've been incommunicado, I've just been finalizing my own app all last week. I have a comment for Tom C, too.)

That the E&E feed as well as others are in review for standardization is great to hear. I'm aware it's a manual and time consuming process, and I really appreciate the quality of the csv and xml data that is produced, without which my work wouldn't be possible. Regarding the data, I had a chance to talk to Ernest Tollerson last Saturday morning about the data, and share some observations about it and I'm really enthused to be part of a process in motion that I think is going to bring such great improvements for the people in New York City, seriously.

Regarding the station codes, I would agree that having a code for each and applying it consistently across all the data would make all the data much more usable long-term. Of course, that process must consider how to handle a number of issues, notable the "station complexes" of multiple platforms (which I understand from that according to the article the MTA considers multiple stations connected within fare control -- which is a distinction that makes sense, especially in this context. ...

I actually wrote a longer paragraph about this issue, but the comment is getting long. I would be happy to email it.

Regarding the feeds being reviewed for standardization, if there was any way to volunteer to be involved in that process, I would love to have the chance to contribute based on what I'm doing. My own app is coming out imminently (it's currently in App Store review) and while it primarily deals with the maps, I did do something somewhat unique with some MTA information to display information about the line and service. Let me know if I can be more involved at


8 months ago

Great way to use technology to help people.

8 months ago

This is a wonderful project. The only question I have is what device will the users have? I assume not a touch-screen device; this is just to demo the software? Or will this all be voice-commanded?

8 months ago

Fabulous idea and much needed! Good luck and thanks for making life easier for people who really need it.

8 months ago

name it e-guidedog

Moderator 7 months ago

Hey everyone,

Megan at ChallengePost here. It came to our attention that the team that entered AccessWay in the virtual challenge is slightly different than the team that worked on AccessWay in the hackathon back in May. Our platform shows only the most recent team, so we wanted to quickly post the members of the original team so they get credit for their work on the hackathon entry. Nice job everyone!

Robin Chou
Yangbo Du
Kristin Loeb
Kevin Miller
Michael Sanderson
Michael Vilabrera
Nicholas White
Abigail Yuskis

1 – 15 of 15

Comments are closed.