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Designing a visible city for visually impaired users

White, Robert W. and Grant, P.M. (2009) Designing a visible city for visually impaired users. In: Proceedings of the 2009 International Conference on Inclusive Design, INCLUDE 2009. Royal College of Art, London, England. ISBN 9781905000807

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Abstract

This paper reports on an ongoing doctoral research project which aims to identify the main barriers to access within the built environment for persons with a visual impairment. The research seeks to investigate whether these barriers are common for all types of visual impairment and degree of vision loss and if so, what inclusive design solutions can accommodate the needs of the majority of visually impaired users. An access audit has been conducted within Glasgow city centre which sought to quantify the number and type of hazards present within a typical built environment. This was followed up by a questionnaire which asked participants to rate factors which may prevent them from making independent visits to their nearest city centre including psychological factors, physical features and obstructions resulting from the presence of street furniture. Participants also indicated the colours and contrasts which they find easiest to detect within the built environment. These findings will be used to inform the creation of a new set of design guidelines to assist designers, architects and urban planners as to how they can provide more accessible and inclusive environments for the visually impaired population.