Journal article  Open Access

Exploiting the haptic and audio channels to improve orientation and mobility apps for the visually impaired

Paratore M. T., Leporini B.

Haptic feedback  User interfaces  Accessibility  Mobile applications  Navigation and mobility  Cognitive maps 

Orientation and mobility apps for visually impaired people are well known to be effective in improving the quality of life for this target group. A mobile application that guides a visually impaired person step-by-step through a physical space is a valuable aid, but it does not provide an overview of a complex environment "at a glance," as a traditional hard-copy tactile map does. The aim of this study is to investigate whether a smartphone GPS map, enriched with haptic and audio hints, can facilitate cognitive mapping for visually impaired users. Encouraged by a preliminary study conducted in co-operation with two visually impaired volunteers, we designed and developed an Android prototype for exploration of an urban area. Our goal was to provide an affordable, portable and versatile solution to help users increase awareness of an environment through the positions of its landmarks and points of interest. Vibro-tactile and audio hints were linked to the coordinates on the map via the GeoJSON data format and were issued exploiting the text-to-speech and vibration features of the mobile device, as they were displayed through the operating system's APIs. Test sessions and interviews with visually impaired users produced encouraging results. Results, to be verified by more extensive testing, overall confirm the validity of our approach and are in line with results found in the literature.

Source: Universal access in the information society (Print) (2023). doi:10.1007/s10209-023-00973-4

Publisher: Springer., Heidelberg, Germania


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BibTeX entry
	title = {Exploiting the haptic and audio channels to improve orientation and mobility apps for the visually impaired},
	author = {Paratore M. T. and Leporini B.},
	publisher = {Springer., Heidelberg, Germania},
	doi = {10.1007/s10209-023-00973-4},
	journal = {Universal access in the information society (Print)},
	year = {2023}