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How to Get Around Miami When You Can’t See

Imagine leaving your home without the ability to  see. Then envision the nuances of hailing a Lyft or Uber to take you to a grocery store. Next up, there’s  the task of shopping for the groceries, and finally, returning home. 

It may sound challenging, but that’s just another day in the life of people with visual impairments and those who are legally blind, like Miami artist, activist and interior designer David New, who was born with sight but lost it due to a virus called varicella zoster. 

New appears on the latest episode of No Parking for a candid sit-down with co-host, and Ground Truth columnist, Alex Roy. 

“I am super careful about every single step that I take wherever I go,” New says.

Nonetheless, he believes that technology, and the Apple iPhone in particular, have “changed the world for people with disabilities and people who are blind like nothing else has ever. So this is a great time to be alive if you’re a person with a disability.” 

New explains on the podcast how Apple’s voice-over accessibility features on the iPhone enable him to use popular ride-hailing services and enter his destination. 

However, he also explains the challenges of dealing with rideshare drivers who may not immediately comprehend his blindness and may also have trouble communicating with him due to language barriers. Some have balked at the prospect of transporting his guide dog Lola. 

“I have worked directly with the rideshare companies to help implement new tools to make it well known that they have a responsibility, the drivers, to pick us up,” New says. “And I know that they get push notifications letting them know on a daily basis that they have to do this, yet they still refuse me.” 

New says there are other apps that help him navigate the world without sight, including one called Aira.io that connects him to other people who act as remote sighted guides. 

And finally, he and Roy discuss how autonomous vehicles could further aid in his transportation around Miami.

“I want to call the car, have it come right up to me. I get in, I type in or enter in somehow the coordinates of the destination, the address of where I want to go. It takes me right to the door of where I’m going, then it parks itself. And I’m free to be.”  

Listen to the episode now for the full, educational conversation. And be sure to subscribe for next week’s episode.  

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