The Blind Leading the Blind: Toward Collaborative Online Route Information Management by Individuals with Visual Impairments

Vladimir Kulyukin, John Nicholson, David Ross, James Marston, Florence Gaunet

The long-term objective of our project is to discover the fundamental principles underlying the collaborative production, sharing, and management of route information by travelers with visual impairments. The specific research hypothesis is two-fold: 1) people with varied levels of vision loss and orientation and mobility (O&M) skills will be able to form online social networks that collaboratively manage large route information collections for different geographic areas, and 2) members of such networks will be able to successfully travel through a variety of previously unknown indoor and outdoor environments of varied complexity when provided with online verbal route directions referencing landmarks and path integration information salient to their particular vision and skill level. In this paper, we report on the initial stage of our project: an online survey whose objectives are to collect samples of route descriptions from travelers with visual impairments and to do the initial profiling of the target population. The data collected so far provide valuable insights into what travelers with visual impairments need to know about their environments in order to travel independently and how they may communicate that information to their fellow travelers in the future.

Subjects: 8. Enabling Technologies; 11.2 Ontologies

Submitted: Jan 22, 2008

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