Mediating seamless navigation by individuals with functional disability through mobile technology

Authors: Martin Swobodzinski*, Portland State University, Amy Parker, Portland State University
Topics: Geographic Information Science and Systems, Behavioral Geography, Disabilities
Keywords: navigation, wayfinding, mobile technology, visual impairment, spatial cognition
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Wayfinding and navigation are key enabling activities for individuals to live healthy, economically sustainable, and fulfilling lives. For many, these activities are greatly mediated and facilitated through mobile hard- and software. For individuals with functional disabilities, including those with blindness, deafblindness, visual impairment, and low vision, being able to safely and effectively navigate both new and familiar spaces is an essential component for successful transition, community participation, college, and career readiness. Although there have been significant advancements in and proliferation of mobile wayfinding technology, developers have not widely considered the unique access and information needs of individuals across the spectrum of functional disability. In this presentation, we share results from our research with community partners, organizations, and individuals with visual impairments in the context of wayfinding apps and seamless indoor/outdoor navigation. Findings from our research suggest the importance of social learning, participatory design, and better integration of technologies. Despite constituting a sizable, growing minority of the general population, people with visual impairments, and, by extension, functional disability, continue to face significant barriers to community inclusion and technology accessibility.

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