Press Release

Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities and Franklin University Partner to Transform the Lives of Students with Disabilities through Technology

L to R: ODHE Chancellor Randy Gardner, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, Franklin University Student Matthew BurgerFranklin University President David Decker, and Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities Director Kevin Miller


Sherry Mercurio
Executive Director, Office of Community Relations

Columbus, OH (May 31, 2019)

Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities (OOD) and Franklin University announced this week that Franklin University is the first 4-year university in the nation to offer an innovative navigation support system for students who are blind or have low vision.

Students can now navigate by smart phone technology through the free BlindSquare Event app utilizing 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 campus and to adjacent public transit.

Governor Mike DeWine joined OOD Director Kevin Miller and Franklin University President Dr. David Decker to announce the collaboration aimed at improving access to education and employment for students who are blind as well as those with low vision or mobility challenges.

“Anything we can do to increase opportunities for all Ohioans is important,” Governor DeWine said. “For a college student to have total access and to be able to enjoy all of the campus is essential.”

“This is about supporting students’ independence,” Miller said. “We want to help them navigate campus with confidence, finish their coursework, and get on a path to a great career.”

“We’re very excited to provide technology that expands access,” Dr. Decker said. “It’s our honor to be able to help transform the lives of students with disabilities through technological access to all of the opportunities on campus.”

Matthew Burger, who is a current student at Franklin University and who is blind, demonstrated how BlindSquare now assists him in navigating the campus. The demonstration was also attended by Randy Gardner, Chancellor of the Ohio Department of Higher Education as well as students from the Ohio State School for the Blind.

BlindSquare works by determining a user’s location using an iOS device’s GPS capabilities and looking up information about the surrounding environment, which at Franklin University is provided by a series of beacons around campus and in select buildings. After finding directional information, the app provides a clear, synthetic voice to help a user navigate. It can track the user’s destination and periodically announce the distance and direction while travelling as well as mark locations for future use.

OOD is the state agency responsible for providing individuals with disabilities opportunities to achieve quality employment, independence and disability outcomes. www.OOD.Ohio.Gov

About Franklin University

Accredited, nonprofit and dedicated to educating adults since 1902, Franklin provides on-site course options at our Main Campus in downtown Columbus, Ohio, and is an innovator in providing personalized online education. The University offers applied in-demand undergraduate, master’s and doctorate programs that enable adult learners to achieve their educational and professional goals. The University also offers several academic programs internationally, including its top-ranked MBA, through agreements with partner institutions.

Franklin University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission and holds specialized accreditations for specific academic programs through the International Accreditation Council for Business Education, the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education and the Commission on Accreditation of Health Informatics and Information Management Education. Franklin is only one of three schools in Ohio designated as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education (CAE-CDE) by the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security. 

News Type

  • Students
  • University