"I Want to Figure Things Out": Supporting Exploration in Navigation for People with Visual Impairments

by   Gaurav Jain, et al.

Navigation assistance systems (NASs) aim to help visually impaired people (VIPs) navigate unfamiliar environments. Most of today's NASs support VIPs via turn-by-turn navigation, but a growing body of work highlights the importance of exploration as well. It is unclear, however, how NASs should be designed to help VIPs explore unfamiliar environments. In this paper, we perform a qualitative study to understand VIPs' information needs and challenges with respect to exploring unfamiliar environments, with the aim of informing the design of NASs that support exploration. Our findings reveal the types of spatial information that VIPs need as well as factors that affect VIPs' information preferences. We also discover specific challenges that VIPs face that future NASs can address such as orientation and mobility education and collaborating effectively with others. We present design implications for NASs that support exploration, and we identify specific research opportunities and discuss open socio-technical challenges for making such NASs possible. We conclude by reflecting on our study procedure to inform future approaches in research on ethical considerations that may be adopted while interacting with the broader VIP community.


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