ITU Takes “Loud Steps” to Overcome Barriers
Jun 12, 2017

Our Ayazağa Campus has been one of the first campuses in the world to implement a corporate social responsibility project that will facilitate the lives of persons with disabilities, Loud Steps, which will be implemented in a combination of open and closed spaces, with the cooperation of Turk Telekom and our university.

Our Ayazağa Campus became one of the first university campuses to implement the Loud Steps project both in open and indoor areas; the application is Turk Telekom's corporate social responsibility project. Thanks to the developed application, our students with disabilities will be able to go from the Rectorate as far as the classrooms, both inside and outdoors, easily, without needing assistance. The application was chosen first in the "Best Mobile Use for Accessibility and Inclusivity" category at the 2017 GLOMO Awards in the World Mobile Congress (MWC), recently held in Barcelona.

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Turk Telekom, in cooperation with Boni, a technology company focused on navigation and mapping, launched "Voice Steps" in 2014, and continues to expand it, as it enables more individuals with disabilities to socialize. The application, which aids those who have visual and hearing impairments, both indoors and outdoors, is a first in Turkey. Loud Steps covers the 247 hectare area of the Ayazağa Campus, including the Rectorate and administrative buildings, 8 faculties, 4 institute buildings, dormitories, and ITU ARI Teknokent. Because it is a corporate social responsibility project, it will be made available, free of charge, to all users, through both IOS and Android operating systems, without any operator limits.

Paul Doany: “Loud Steps, an exemplary corporate social responsibility project”

CEO of Türk Telekom, Paul Doany, said the Loud Steps app is an example of the power of technology in removing regional, economic, social, and physical inequalities. Indicating that they are acting with the principle of "accessible communication for all," Doany underlined that they are a model for many companies, along with the pioneering role they have undertaken since 2014 with Loud Steps, which they see as a corporate social responsibility project. He stated that the development of the project which will include support for the hearing impaired, indicating that he was happy to have it first implemented at ITU, one of Turkey's most established universities, adding that cooperation with the university will continue.

Barrier-free ITU’s scope expands with Loud Steps

Our Rector, Prof. Dr. Mehmet Karaca pointed out that the first university to implement the project was ITU and that it was an important step within the scope of Barrier-free ITU studies. Our Rector emphasized that Ayazağa Campus has been transformed into accessible physical spaces for disadvantaged groups with the open and closed area navigation system applied for the first time in a Turkish university; after he thanked the company, he interpreted his thoughts with the following: “Our goal, on the one hand, is to provide a comfortable and safe life for the disabled who use our campus, to make them feel more free, and on the other hand, to encourage persons with disabilities to attend universities and to incentivize campus life. Loud Steps will add value to our campus, by using new technologies and digitalization that will significantly transform everything from physical spaces to virtual learning environments.”

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It has been used approximately two-hundred thousand times to date

The application is designed to enable persons with disabilities to move freely in large, complex areas such as shopping malls, campuses, mosques, and public institutions without needing help, and aims to help them find a place they are looking for or to know where they are at a given moment. To date the app has been downloaded by 30,000 people and has been used about 200,000 times; the next step will be to expand the coverage by entering into new areas.

With contributions from the Association for the Hearing Impaired and their Families, Loud Steps was developed to include hearing impaired individuals, by adding new shapes and schemes to the application in order to make the instructions more understandable. Thus, an individual with a disability can easily access the area he wants to go by using the icons, figures and direction signs on the application. Loud Steps also direct users to emergency exit doors in emergency situations.