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Investigating design issues of context-aware mobile guides for people with visual impairments

Bradley, N.A. and Dunlop, M.D. (2004) Investigating design issues of context-aware mobile guides for people with visual impairments. In: Proceedings of the 6th International Conference on Human Computer Interaction with Mobile Devices and Services (Mobile HCI '04). ACM Press, London, UK. ISBN 3-540-23086-6

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Abstract

While mobile wayfinding systems for visually impaired people offer huge potential, most insufficiently address the differences between visual impairments and contextual environments, and offer very little context-awareness - usability issues of which are vital in supporting independent mobility. Participants experiencing a loss of central vision, loss of peripheral vision, and total vision loss made up three groups. Our multidisciplinary model of context was used to design a user study, which involved asking participants to walk to pre-determined outdoor and indoor landmarks. Significant differences were found between groups relating to information requirements, and the environmental cues encoded and used to orientate and navigate. The study also found differences between indoor and outdoor contexts. It was concluded that what is meaningful to one form of visual impairment is incidental to another. These issues need to be captured and accounted for if wayfinding systems are to be usable.