Wayfinding by people with visual impairments in the exterior urban environment

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Carreon, Ricardo Sevilla
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The purpose of this study was to explore and compare the wayfinding experiences of people with full vision and people with visual impairments. The main objective was to test the street environment to find the areas that limited and facilitated the wayfinding activity of people. The study occurred between 1997 and 1999 and was modeled after Finkel's study (1994) on wayfinding by people with visual impairments in the built environment. The study incorporated 'consumer driven research,' in a modified sense, and included a consumer advisory committee, which took part in several components of the study as well as in the review of all research chapters. Forty-eight adults comprised the study sample who were placed in one of four groups: 15 people aided by a white cane; 15 people with low vision and using no aids; 11 people aided by guide dogs; and 7 people with full vision. Data was collected and coded into various categories such as which elements of the environment were used most often, the areas that were considered to be problematic to wayfinding, and what design considerations should be taken to improve the pedestrian environment. (Abstract shortened by UMI.)