Mediating seamless navigation by individuals with functional disability through mobile technology

Authors: Martin Swobodzinski*, Portland State University, Amy T. Parker, Portland State University
Topics: Behavioral Geography, Disabilities, Geographic Information Science and Systems
Keywords: human wayfinding; navigation; mobile technology; visual impairment; deafblindness
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/8/2021
Start / End Time: 11:10 AM / 12:25 PM
Room: Virtual 28
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


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. Human wayfinding and navigation, in particular, 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, deaf-blindness, 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. In this presentation, we share results from our research activities with community partners, organizations, and individuals in the visually impaired community in the context of human wayfinding and seamless indoor/outdoor navigation. Findings from our research suggest the importance of social learning, participatory design, and better integration of technologies. In addition, despite the significant advancements in and proliferation of mobile wayfinding technology, a marginal understanding of the unique access and information needs of individuals across the spectrum of functional disability continues to be the norm.

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