Use of an Indoor Navigation System by Sighted and Blind Travelers: Performance Similarities across Visual Status and Age
Publication Name: Use of an Indoor Navigation System by Sighted and Blind Travelers: Performance Similarities across Visual Status and Age
This article first reviews the pros and cons of current accessible indoor navigation systems and then describes a study using commercial smart devices to navigate routes through a complex building. Our interest was in comparing performance when using real-time narrative descriptions (system-aided condition) vs. a memory- based condition where the same narrative information was only provided to users from the route’s origin. We tested two groups of blind and visually impaired (BVI) users, including people above and below 60 years of age, as well as a third sighted control group. Evaluating older BVI participants is important, as the major- ity of vision loss is age-related, yet navigation performance using access technology is rarely studied with this demographic. Behavioral results demonstrated that access to real-time (system-aided) information led to better navigation accuracy and greater confidence by blind users compared to the information-matched mem- ory condition. Performance for blind participants over 60 years old was nearly identical with their younger peers—an important outcome supporting the efficacy of using navigational technologies by this fast-growing population. Route completion accuracy and requests for assistance did not reliably differ between blind and sighted participants when using the system, suggesting that access to narrative route information led to functionally equivalent navigation behavior, irrespective of visual status. Survey results revealed strong user support for real-time information and provided important guidance for future interface refinements.
Giudice, N.A., Guenther, B.A., Kaplan, T.M., Anderson, S.M., Knuesel, R.J., & Cioffi, J.F. (2020). Use of an Indoor navigation system by sighted and blind travelers: Performance Similarities across visual status and age. ACM Transactions on Accessible Computing (TACCESS), 13(3), 1-27.