• Small text Medium text Large text
  • Default colours Black text on white background Yellow text on black background

The Functionality of Route Information for Visually Impaired and Blind People

Principal researcher

Name: E. M. Havik

Contact details: University of Groningen, Ophthalmology, Hanzeplein 1, 9713 GZ Groningen, The Netherlands.
Tel: +31 50 361 1191
Email: e.m.havik@ohk.umcg.nl


Project details

Start date: 01/09/2006
End date: 01/03/2009

Description: The general aim of this project is to make route information accessible for visually impaired and blind people (VIPs). To achieve this, we are currently installing an indoor Route Information System in the University Medical Centre in Groningen. This system will help VIPs to find the way to their destination in the hospital by means of auditory cues. The system consists of a handheld receiver, RFID beacons and IR beacons that are installed in the hallways of the hospital, and navigation software. The handheld receiver gives the user two different types of auditory output: 1) Route-information: instructions about the direction that is to be followed to reach the destination. This information is delivered when a user approaches an RFID beacon. 2) Environment information: information about specific landmarks that a user passes on the route. This information is only delivered when a user deliberately 'looks around' by means of pointing the receiver in various directions in the environment. When the receiver is pointed towards an IR beacon, information about this landmark is delivered. User tests will be conducted in which visually impaired subjects will be asked to walk several different routes with and without the information delivered by the system. Wayfinding performance and the ability to build up a mental representation of the building will be compared when subjects walk routes with information in one of four different conditions: 1) a verbal route description at the information desk, 2) route-information, 3) route-information + landmark information, 4) verbal route description at the information desk + landmark information. Research questions are related to the efficiency of the system in increasing the mobility of the visually impaired person in a public building, the optimization of the auditory messages, and to the nature of the cognitive representations that the users form on the basis of different types of auditory messages. The resulting optimized Route Information System can be applied in railway stations, public buildings, shopping centres, etcetera and complements the outdoor route information delivered by existing GPS systems.

Other organisations involved in this project

Last updated: 20/03/2010