Opportunities for education and employment depend upon effective and independent travel. For mainstream society, this is accomplished to a large extent by printed signs. People who are print disabled, visually impaired, or totally blind are at a disadvantage because they do not have access to signage. Remote infrared signage, such as the Talking Signs (TS) system, provides a solution to this need by labeling the environment for distant viewing. The system uses a transmitting "sign" and a hand-held receiver to tell people about their surroundings. In a seamless infrared signage environment, a visually impaired traveler could: walk safely across an intersection to an ATM or fare machine, from fare machine to bus stop, from bus stop to bus; from bus to building, from building to elevator, from elevator to office, from office to restroom, and so forth. This paper focuses on two problems that are among the most challenging and dangerous faced by blind travelers: negotiating complex transit stations and controlled intersections. We report on human factors studies of TS in these critical tasks, examining such issues as how much training is needed to use the system, its impact on performance and safety, benefits for different population subgroups and user opinions of its value. Results indicate that blind people can quickly and easily learn to use remote infrared signage effectively, and that its use improves travel safety, efficiency, and independence.
Publication Type: Journal Article
Publication: Journal of Rehabilitation Research and Development, Volume 36, Issue 4, p.341-55 (1999)