Talking Points is collaborative student project at the University of Michigan whose aim is develop a prototype urban orientation and contextual information system. By using a mobile application to read Bluetooth tags or GPS coordinates positioned around a city, user generated location information is presented to the user via either an audio or visual modular interface.


Supporting Spatial Awareness and Independent Wayfinding for Pedestrians with Visual Impairments

Much of the information designed to help people navigate the built environment is conveyed through visual channels, which means it is not accessible to people with visual impairments. Due to this limitation, travelers with visual impairments often have difficulty navigating and discovering locations in unfamiliar environments, which reduces their sense of independence with respect to traveling by foot. In this paper, we examine how mobile location-based computing systems can be used to increase the feeling of independence in travelers with visual impairments. A set of formative interviews with people with visual impairments showed that increasing one’s general spatial awareness is the key to greater independence. This insight guided the design of Talking Points 3 (TP3), a mobile location-aware system for people with visual impairments that seeks to increase the legibility of the environment for its users in order to facilitate navigating to desired locations, exploration, serendipitous discovery, and improvisation. We conducted studies with eight legally blind participants in three campus buildings in order to explore how and to what extent TP3 helps promote spatial awareness for its users. The results shed light on how TP3 helped users find destinations in unfamiliar environments, but also allowed them to discover new points of interest, improvise solutions to problems encountered, develop personalized strategies for navigating, and, in general, enjoy a greater sense of independence.

Supporting visually impaired navigation: a needs-finding study.

Pablo-Alejandro Quinones, Tammy Greene, Rayoung Yang, and Mark Newman. 2011. Supporting visually impaired navigation: a needs-finding study. In CHI ‘11 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI EA ‘11). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 1645-1650. pdf

In this paper, we investigate the requirements for designing systems to support wayfinding for visually impaired individuals. We report the results of an interview study with 20 individuals with visual impairments, asking about their way-finding tools, techniques, and obstacles. Our findings provide an account of the practices followed when navigating familiar, unfamiliar, and dynamic environments, and common breakdowns encountered during the wayfinding process. The findings from this study suggest ways of implementing a location-based system to assist in the recovery from various obstacles.


Supporting spatial awareness and independent wayfinding for pedestrians with visual impairments
Rayoung Yang, Sangmi Park, Sonali R. Mishra, Zhenan Hong, Clint Newsom, Hyeon Joo, Erik Hofer, Mark Newman