Investigating context-aware clues to assist navigation for visually impaired people

Bradley, N.A. and Dunlop, M.D. (2002) Investigating context-aware clues to assist navigation for visually impaired people. In: Proceedings of Workshop on Building Bridges: Interdisciplinary Context-Sensitive Computing, University of Glasgow, 2002-09-09.

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It is estimated that 7.4 million people in Europe are visually impaired [1]. Limitations of traditional mobility aids (i.e. white canes and guide dogs) coupled with a proliferation of context-aware technologies (e.g.Electronic Travel Aids, Global Positioning Systems and Geographical Information Systems), have stimulated research and development into navigational systems for the visually impaired. However, current research appears very technology focused, which has led to an insufficient appreciation of Human Computer Interaction, in particular task/requirements analysis and notions of contextual interactions. The study reported here involved a smallscale investigation into how visually impaired people interact with their environmental context during micro-navigation (through immediate environment) and/or macro-navigation (through distant environment) on foot.The purpose was to demonstrate the heterogeneous nature of visually impaired people in interaction with their environmental context. Results from a previous study involving sighted participants were used for comparison. Results revealed that when describing a route, visually impaired people vary in their use of different types of navigation clues - both as a group, when compared with sighted participants, and as individuals. Usability implications and areas for further work are identified and discussed.