Orange: Navigate the seven seas despite a visual impairment? SARA makes it possible!
Olivier Ducruix does not let his visual impairment interfere with his passion for sailing, which is for him a source of fulfillment and freedom. To share this feeling, he co-developed the SARA (Sail and Race Audioguide) application with Mathieu Simonnet, to allow visually impaired and blind people to sail (almost) in complete autonomy.
SARA offers freedom of navigation
“A sailboat is the only means of transport that can be piloted without seeing because the bodies of water are quite large”, explains Olivier Ducruix, himself visually impaired. As long as you have a sighted assistant with you, or better yet an app that can provide all the data you need on the boat’s direction, speed and sailing conditions.
This is the ambition of SARA, the application co-developed by Olivier Ducruix with Mathieu Simonnet, president of the Orion association, which has already launched another navigation aid for the visually impaired. SARA was first designed when the couple met while sailing in 2009, but the technology was not advanced enough to make it a reality. The first version of the application had to wait until 2016, when it was tested during a regatta. Developed within the Orange Digital Skills Center (CCA) and in partnership with the French Sailing Federation, SARA provides voice information relating to the starting position, heading and progress of the boat during the race. “We tested it with sighted people who were blindfolded during the race, and they said they discovered new sensations when it came to sailing on the water,” rejoices Olivier Ducruix. The application was successful, so much so that two years later, a cruise version was released, which offers the same functionalities, and which can also be connected to on-board instruments. Olivier and Mathieu won a call for projects for this cruise version from the National Union of the Blind and Visually Impaired (UNADEV).
Since May 2021, the application has been available for free download from the App Store in several languages: French, English, Spanish, Italian and soon Japanese.
In addition, the app can be extended to other water sports such as rowing, boating and kayaking. Olivier Ducruix has received several requests from all over the world, which will open the application to new horizons.
How Orange is involved in digital accessibility
“Since the launch of the project, Orange has been a real driving force behind its development”, explains Olivier Ducruix. During his time at Orange, he benefited from IT and ergonomic advice and guidance from the CCA and the IT department and was also able to access technical test environments in situ on boats in open water. The Orange Foundation also contributed to the financing of SARA. A win-win, since in return Orange has benefited from the creativity, design innovation and collaboration of Olivier Ducruix, particularly in terms of inclusive technology. As Olivier Ducruix says, “Digital technology represents a real revolution that has the power to change lives, especially for people with disabilities, provided that platforms and applications have also been designed with them in mind. “ This is because all websites and applications must adhere to accessibility guidelines, as defined by the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). Olivier works on behalf of the CCA to educate engineers and developers to adapt technology to make it more accessible to people with disabilities. Orange also supported its secondment to UNADEV to work on the Cécivoile project, which aims to introduce sailing to a greater number of visually impaired people.
Olivier Ducruix believes that disability should not be the only pretext for innovation – the only failure is not to try. Even if the path is complex, teamwork allows progress because not everyone needs to have the same strength or the same skills. It is the power of diversity.
Olivier Ducruix and Mathieu Simonnet
Digital represents a real revolution that has the power to change lives, especially for people with disabilities, provided that platforms and applications have also been designed with them in mind.
Orange SA published this content on October 11, 2021 and is solely responsible for the information it contains. Distributed by Public, unedited and unmodified, on October 11, 2021 10:31:03 AM UTC.
Public now 2021
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