Rochester-based Leader Dog plans a May 24 announcement on how it’s combining the Kapten Plus handheld spoken word navigation device with the traditional leader dog to give the blind and visually impaired greater travel independence.

The device has been in development for 18 months in partnership with France-based Kapsys. Leader Dog will be the sole United State-based rights holder and distributor of the device.

“The Kapten PLUS changes everything,” said Greg Grabowski, Leader Dog president and CEO. “Our ultimate goal is that everyone who is visually impaired will have specialized GPS to enhance their mobility,  so there must be an affordable price-point to make it accessible to all who need it.”

In 2005 Leader Dog became the first guide dog organization to provide GPS training to people while they also used a cane or a guide dog. The new Kapten PLUS unit creates the first truly affordable GPS solution tailored for the blind, at a price of only $295, compared to earlier costs in the thousands of dollars. The device will be offered at no cost to all Leader Dog clients. It will also be available to other blind and visually impaired persons through its online gift shop.

After intensive early development activity, Leader Dog clients begin testing the Kapten PLUS a year ago. This past March, Kapten PLUS units were used and distributed for free in guide dog instruction as well as orientation and mobility classes at Leader Dog.

Leader Dogs for the Blind is a nonprofit organization that has been providing independent travel to people who are blind through the use of Leader Dogs since its founding in 1939.  Over the years, Leader Dogs for the Blind has provided independent mobility to more than 14,000 individuals.

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