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Vision Loss Basics

Home > Vision Loss Basics > Mobility > Electronic Travel Aids

Electronic Travel Aids

An electronic travel aid (ETA) is a device that emits energy waves to detect objects in the environment within a certain range. The ETA processes reflected information and provides it to the user, usually through vibrations, sounds or voice announcements. Electronic travel aids may operate on laser or sonar waves, or on global positioning system (GPS) technology.

Some ETAs are used as primary mobility aids, while others are used as a secondary aid in conjunction with a long cane or a guide dog. Electronic travel aids may provide a degree of sensory information about an environment that would not be obtainable using only a long cane or a guide dog. For example, many portable GPS devices now announce names of streets and major public buildings.

For more about this technique, please see CNIB’s “Step-by-Step” publication.