Enhanced Orientation for the Blind and Visually Impaired

Enhanced Orientation for the Blind and Visually Impaired

Posted on Sep.08, 2009, by , under Educational, Innovations for Visually Impaired


For people who are blind or visually impaired, orientation in unknown environments is a special challenge. A navigation system, however, can help to support orientation skills. Researchers at the University of Stuttgart are drawing information together for blind and visually impaired students that can be accessed with a precise mobile navigation device.

 This device combines local sensor information with data from environment models. En route to a selected destination, the user can get information acoustically or in Braille. Thereby, the model and sensor data are compared continuously. This information includes navigational options and other suggestions relevant to blind students.

Navigation within the large and complex university buildings can be a time-consuming challenge. To support people with visually impairments, the team built digital hierarchical 2D-environment models of the campus of the University of Stuttgart and of the SZS building of the University of Karlsruhe. These models include augmented information and important landmarks, such as doors and elevator switches, equipped with RFID-Tags.

Using the so-called TANIA system (Tactile-Acoustical Navigation and Information Assistant), also developed within the Visualization and Interactive Systems Group, the blind user can access information about their current position and other mapped objects in the vicinity.

The system can provide navigation options and augmented information, such as names of staff members or contact data. All information can be provided acoustically or in Braille as the individual passes the corresponding real or virtual spaces. In general, any location-based text information can be integrated, such as the office hours of university lecturers, opening hours of the library, the student council offices, or the cafeteria, or other student-specific information that is especially relevant for those new to the university.

Source for complete article: http://www.rehacare.de/cipp/md_rehacare/custom/pub/content,lang,2/oid,22873/ticket,g_u_e_s_t/~/Enhanced_Orientation_for_the_Blind_and_Visually_Impaired.html