1.1 Providing user preview of all audio instructions

It is recommended that vision impaired people are able to preview all instructions of the route in advance of their journey so that they may have an idea or create a mental map of what to expect.

Based on Wayfindr research findings, this feature will prove more useful when the vision impaired person is planning a route, for example, at their home or workplace, rather than when they are about to commence a journey, for example at the station entrance. The ability of current digital navigation services to preview each stage of a journey allows vision impaired passengers to plan their means of transport as well as where they need to change trains etc.

NB. This functionality can be demonstrated in the Wayfindr Demo iOS App v0.4.

1.2 Enabling replay of previous audio instruction

It is helpful to provide users with the option to replay a previous instruction in the interests of reducing distress while on the move. This feature allows vision impaired passengers to feel more in control of their journey, as they are able to confirm that they have heard an instruction correctly.

Where the voice over mode is on and the instruction is displayed as text on the screen, users can scroll to the text to listen to it again. However, based on user research findings it is more effective if there is a clear call-to-action button to “Repeat” the previous instruction. There is a risk of interference with upcoming instructions while replaying a previous instruction, which must be taken into account.

NB. This functionality can be demonstrated in the Wayfindr Demo iOS App v0.4.

1.3 Enabling dictation for searching

It is recommended to use native OS dictation systems as part of the mobile operating system as this will allow users to search more quickly when on the move by dictating their preference, rather than to typing it into the mobile device whilst using their primary mobility aid.

NB. This functionality can be demonstrated in the Wayfindr Demo iOS App v0.4.

Suggestions for further investigation

The following paragraphs are not guidelines but suggested areas for future investigation through user research.

s1.1 Enabling selection of directional instructions

As seen in the Section there are various strategies for communicating directions to vision impaired users and different approaches in different countries. Vision impaired passengers have no clear single preference for the mode of communication as long as they are able to pick the means they prefer.

It is recommended therefore to enable users to choose between:

  • Clock face directions, for example “turn at 1 o’clock” (common in the UK)
  • Degrees, for example “turn at 45 degrees to your right”
  • Proportional directions, for example “turn slightly to your left”
  • Cardinal coordinates, for example “turn facing east” (common in the USA)

s1.2 Enabling dictation for selection of options

It is recommended to provide vision impaired users with the means to dictate their selection from a list of options as this reduces the cost of the selection on their device. It is useful too for the user to ask for the previous instruction to be repeated or to make a selection from a list.

s1.3 Providing guidance to the nearest help point

Where a passenger feels that they may have got lost in a controlled environment such as a station it is important to provide guidance on how to seek help in an emergency. It is possible to integrate this function with the venue owner’s operations. Alternatively, guide vision impaired people to the nearest help points that can generally be found at various locations.

s1.4 Suggesting the safest not the shortest or fastest route

As mentioned in Section 2.1.5 many vision impaired people prioritise route safety over distance and duration. Investigating accessibility levels along each route to the destination enables this metric to be calculated. However, what is considered as a “safe” route is subjective to each individual and more investigation needs to happen in order to better define the aspects that make a route “safe”.

s1.5 Enabling users to choose voice type

Where the digital navigation service is using a customised voice (in addition to the native OS voice over of the Operating System), it is helpful to provide a choice of different voice types from which the user may select. This ensures that they have a voice of their preferred gender, tone and accent. Offering users the option of adjusting the voice speed in the navigation service is useful as they are already able to do this with their own mobile device’s OS. These options make the app more friendly and personal.

s1.6 Displaying audio instructions as text

Some people might be using braille displays to read the instructions or might be able to read the instructions. Therefore, apart from communicating navigation instructions with audio, it might be also helpful to display them as text on the screen.

NB. This functionality can be demonstrated in the Wayfindr Demo iOS App v0.4.

s1.7 Enabling users to choose their mobility aid

Enabling users to choose a route based on their mobility aid (white cane, guide dog, no aid) offers a more personalised user experience.

A cane user may prefer a route with good tactile cues and landmarks. A guide dog user may prefer an alternative route that suits the dog’s ability with straight line working or “targeting” doors, steps, turns etc.

Based on their primary mobility aid, different instructions can be provided.

For example:

  • For white cane users and no aid users: there may be no need to mention wide gates.
  • For no aid users: since these users are more likely to have functional or residual vision, they will be able to see the layout of the space. To make the system more responsive to their needs the instruction should be to “take the first left” or “take the second right.”
  • For no aid users: since these users are more likely to have functional or residual vision, they will be able to see the layout of the space. To make the system more responsive to their needs, use proportional directions instead of clock faces or degrees. For example, “go through to the gates on your left” instead of “turn 45 degrees to your left and go through the gates.”

s1.8 Enabling saving of frequently used places

To reduce the effort required to input destinations it is recommended that users are enabled to save their most frequent destinations.

s1.9 Enabling saving of personal landmarks

As described in Section 2.4 “Landmarks and clues”, vision impaired people use various landmarks along a route. These landmarks might be different for every individual and might be used repeatedly for various purposes. For example, a vision impaired person might use the landmarks as a reassurance that they are on the right track, as a meeting point etc. Thus, allowing saving of personal landmarks with language that is more meaningful to each individual user is likely to provide a more personalised user experience.