Guhathakurta, Subhrajit

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Utility of a Mobile Route Planning App for People Aging with Disability

2018 , Sanford, Jon , Melgen, Sarah , Guhathakurta, Subhrajit , Zhang, Ge

Mobility is a key contributor to an individual’s community living and participation. As a result, outdoor environmental barriers, such as uneven sidewalks and no curb cuts, play a crucial role in the development of disability and loss of independence among individuals aging with mobility and vision limitations. To compensate, people with disabilities typically plan routes before going out. However, they often lack the appropriate street-level information about the environment to plan routes that meet their abilities and needs for safety and accessibility (e.g., the location of curb cuts and crosswalks). As a result, the real impediment to outdoor mobility is not the actual barriers, but the lack of information about those barriers for route planning. To provide the street-level information about barriers that would maximize the independent living and community participation of people with mobility disabilities, the project team developed a working prototype of the Application for Locational Intelligence and Geospatial Navigation (ALIGN) based on static graphical information systems (GIS) data (e.g., physical infrastructure, slope, crime rates and land uses). This study details the utility testing of the application with individuals aging with mobility and vision limitations by using direct observation, think-aloud and open-ended questionnaires. Findings indicate that participants found the application to be potentially useful, especially in unfamiliar locations. However, testing also indicated a number of refinements, including multimodal input and outputs that would enhance the utility of the initial prototype. Additional design criteria will inform the next prototype, including use of consistent audio/visual feedback, and simpler directions. These criteria will be applied to create a more usable application for the target population.