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.

Mobile devices, which have been widely adopted by people living with sight loss provide increased access to public spaces. Native applications found on practically every mobile device can enhance way finding for someone who is blind provided that the mobile application works with screen magnification, text to speech or even portable braille displays.

There are a growing number of mobile applications which have been designed specifically to provide better guidance for people relying on mobile devices. While these innovative and potentially life changing technologies absolutely make navigating public spaces better for people who are blind, they will never and should not be expected to replace good orientation and mobility training or public spaces that are designed to be accessible.