Wayfinding and Orientation by the Visually Impaired

Craig Zimring
John Templer

DOI: 10.2190/HJDK-607C-5MWT-H5VC


This paper addresses wayfinding and orientation by visually impaired people. First, the characteristics of visually impaired people and several common orientation and mobility strategies are reviewed. Then, two research studies are discussed: In Study I an indoor test track was developed to explore what qualities of paving materials make them detectable by long cane users. Twenty-four visually impaired people were tested. It was found that the noise the cane made when it struck the surface was the best predictor of detectability. Study II was a field study in which sixteen subjects traversed a one-half mile (800 m) test route both before and after various countermeasures were added. It was found that six countermeasures improved the subjects' performances: wooden shoreline, tweeter, metal plates, wooden plate, rubber mats and carpet mats. Several problems and solutions are proposed.

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