Indoor Maps Publications

Accessible Adaptable Indoor Routing for People with Disabilities

Fabian Lüders*, Julian Striegl*, Jan Schmalfuß-Schwarz*, Claudia Loitsch, Gerhard Weber (2022).
*Equal contribution
Joint International Conference on Digital Inclusion, Assistive Technology & Accessibility (ICCHP-AAATE 2022)

For people with disabilities, indoor routing approaches have to take the specific requirements of the target user group into account. Depending on the needs of the individual, certain objects and indoor features can present insurmountable barriers and hence, should be avoided when generating indoor routes. Research in the field of indoor routing for people with disabilities has been going on for several years, but most approaches focus on one specific disability and do not evaluate designed systems with the target user group. Therefore, we propose an accessible, adaptable indoor routing algorithm for people with disabilities. The designed system is evaluated in a user study with people with blindness and mobility impairments using a Wizard of Oz approach. Results indicate a good acceptance of the designed routing system.

https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-08648-9_20

Supporting Independent Travelling for People with Visual Impairments in Buildings by Harmonizing Maps on Embossed Paper and Pin-Matrix Devices for Accessible Info-Points

Jan Schmalfuß-Schwarz*, Christin Engel*, Gerhard Weber (2022). *Equal contribution
Joint International Conference on Digital Inclusion, Assistive Technology & Accessibility (ICCHP-AAATE 2022)

Orientation in unknown buildings is a grand challenge for people with visual impairments in planned as well as in spontaneous scenarios. Therefore, it is necessary to develop solutions that support the whole travelling chain – on the one side the planning process for trips at home and on the other side the orientation process at a building. While different approaches exist for both contexts, in this paper we present a concept using two approaches together for planning and carrying out trips to unknown buildings. We focus on the one hand on tactile printed or embossed maps and on the other hand on digital tactile pin-matrix displays. The first type is suitable for pre-journey planning activities, while the second technology is designed for on-site use. Both approaches are able to provide spatial and configurational knowledge for the tactile sense. Based on this, we describe in this paper how both types could be harmonized to facilitate access to indoor maps in the given scenarios. We present prototypes for tactile indoor maps on embossed paper and demonstrate how a interaction on pin-matrix device can be designed and implemented to be used together and allow similar interaction with both.We propose providing dynamic maps as accessible info-points in buildings. Special focus is on the challenge of splitting tactile indoor maps into multiple views or sheets and how this can be achieved in a similar way with both methods.

https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-08648-9_17

Traveling more Independently: A Study on the Diverse Needs and Challenges of People with Visual or Mobility Impairments in Unfamiliar Indoor Environments

Karin Müller, Christin Engel, Claudia Loitsch, Rainer Stiefelhagen (2022).
ACM Transactions on Accessible Computing, (TACCESS) February 2022

Abstract: It is much more difficult for people with visual or mobility impairments to prepare for a trip or visit unfamiliar places than it is for people without disabilities. In addition to the usual travel arrangements, one needs to know if the various parts of the travel chain are accessible. To the best of our knowledge, there is no previous work that examines in depth travel behavior for indoor environments for both trip planning and execution, highlighting the special needs of people with low vision, blindness, or mobility impairments (MIs). In this article, we present a survey of 125 participants with blindness, low vision, and MIs. We investigate how mobile
they are, what strategies they use to prepare a journey to an unknown building, how they orient themselves there, and what materials they use. For all three groups, our results provide insights into the problem space of the specific information needs when planning and executing a trip. We found that most of our participants have specific mobility problems depending on their disability. Feedback from the participants reveals that there is a large information gap, especially for orientation in buildings, regarding availability of high-quality digital, tactile, and printable indoor maps; accessibility of buildings; and mobility supporting systems. In particular, there is a lack of available and high-quality indoor maps. Our analysis also points out that the specific needs differ for the three groups. Besides the expected between-group differences, large in-group differences can also be found. The current article is an expanded version of earlier work [18] augmented by data of people with MIs.

https://dl.acm.org/doi/10.1145/3514255

An Audio-Tactile System for Visually Impaired People to Explore Indoor Maps

Giuseppe Melfi, Jean Baumgarten, Karin Müller, Rainer Stiefelhagen (2022).
Joint International Conference on Digital Inclusion, Assistive Technology & Accessibility (ICCHP-AAATE 2022)

Abstract:
Nowadays, a great amount of information is communicated in visual form. This excludes visually impaired people from easily accessing that information. A consequence is that they tend to limit their mobility due to lack of information. The goal of this work is to make indoor maps more accessible to help blind people preparing a trip to unknown buildings. In our approach, we further developed an interactive audio-tactile system to facilitate access to indoor maps. A study with blind participants showed that the prototype was well accepted and easy to use. The participants were able to achieve accurate mental models of the provided maps. A further comparison with sighted participants using visual maps showed no significant differences in the ability to describe the maps.

https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-08648-9_16


The Accessible Tactile Indoor Maps (ATIM) Symbol Set: A Common Symbol Set for Different Printing Methods

Giuseppe Melfi, Karin Müller, Gerhard Jaworek, Rainer Stiefelhagen (2022).
Joint International Conference on Digital Inclusion, Assistive Technology & Accessibility (ICCHP-AAATE 2022)

Abstract:
In this paper, we describe a method on how to create a common tactile symbol set for printing methods which differ in resolution. We used a well-tested symbol set for swell paper as a basis and defined criteria on how to transfer the symbols to a different printing method. The method was developed in a user-centered design approach and assessed by a blind expert on tactile graphics resulting in the Accessible Tactile Indoor Maps (ATIM) symbol set. Moreover, we extracted the most important accessibility features for indoor environments and mapped them to distinct symbols. The presented method can also be useful for transfer to other printing techniques with a different resolution.

https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-08648-9_18


Split it Up: Allocentric Descriptions of Indoor Maps for People with Visual Impairments

Julia Anken, Danilo Rosenthal, Karin Müller, Gerhard Jaworek, Rainer Stiefelhagen (2022).
Joint International Conference on Digital Inclusion, Assistive Technology & Accessibility (ICCHP-AAATE 2022)

Abstract:
Planning a trip to unfamiliar public buildings is challenging for people with visual impairments as much visual information such as floor plans is not accessible. Textual descriptions of an indoor map would therefore be very useful to prepare a trip. In particular, an allocentric description independent from the current location of the user which could be used at home would support the preparation phase. However, descriptions of buildings are rarely available. So the main question is how to tailor the descriptions to the needs of people with visual impairments in order to not overwhelm them with too much information at a time. We propose a system for the generation of allocentric textual descriptions for public buildings. In a user study, we tested the usefulness of our system and found that a modular design is regarded helpful to clearly structure descriptions by splitting the description into meaningful modules and avoiding information overload.

https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-08648-9_13


Listening First: Egocentric Textual Descriptions of Indoor Spaces for People with Blindness

Angela Constantinescu*, Eva-Maria Neumann*, Karin Müller, Gerhard Jaworek, Rainer Stiefelhagen (2022).
*Equal contribution
Joint International Conference on Digital Inclusion, Assistive Technology & Accessibility (ICCHP-AAATE 2022)

Abstract:
Orientation in unknown environments is challenging for people with blindness. Especially in indoor environments, there are very few systems that support navigation but almost none for orientation. Thus, we propose a grammar for generating German textual descriptions of indoor environments for users with blindness. We utilize an egocentric approach taking into account the user’s location and orientation in the building. To investigate what word order is preferred, we compare descriptions generated by three different grammars. We also examine what strategies people with blindness pursue to orient themselves in buildings. We test our concept in an online user study with people with blindness. Our study shows that egocentric information should be brief, always following the same structure and allow for customization.

https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-08648-9_28


Traveling to Unknown Buildings: Accessibility Features for Indoor Maps

Angela Constantinescu, Karin Müller, Claudia Loitsch, Sebastian Zappe, Rainer Stiefelhagen (2022).
Joint International Conference on Digital Inclusion, Assistive Technology & Accessibility (ICCHP-AAATE 2022)

Abstract:
Traveling independently to unknown buildings is difficult for people with disabilities, as there is a lack of information about accessibility of indoor environments. In particular, there are hardly any freely available indoor maps of public buildings. In this paper, we address the problem that there is no comprehensive list of information relevant to people with disabilities in indoor environments, which in turn can be used for indoor orientation and navigation systems.
We therefore collected in an extensive literature review around 820 indoor accessibility features relevant for people with disabilities. These were categorized and sorted in a database and mapped to OSM and A11yJSON. The database is publicly available and can serve as a basis for tag proposals to OSM, and as Linked Data (RDF).

https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-08648-9_26


Analysis Tool for Simple Indoor Tagging

Jan Schmalfuß-Schwarz and Julian Striegl (2021).
FOSSGIS 2021 Anwenderkonferenz für Freie und Open Source Software für Geoinformationssysteme, Open Data und OpenStreetMap

Abstract:
The number of complete indoor maps tagged with Simple Indoor Tagging is small and the information they contain as well as their quality varies greatly. To support the mapping, a tool was developed based on OsmInEdit, which analyzes the aspects of room geometry, accessibility of rooms as well as the presence of required information for people with disabilities and represents incompleteness or errors within these using freely selectable Achievements. The mappers are free to choose which Achievements they want to reach and are supported by the tool, for example by being informed about overlapping rooms or missing information.


Accessible Indoor Maps

Jan Schmalfuß-Schwarz, Christin Engel und Claudia Loitsch (2021).
FOSSGIS 2021 Anwenderkonferenz für Freie und Open Source Software für Geoinformationssysteme, Open Data und OpenStreetMap

Abstract:
Within the article on the topic of “Accessible Indoor Maps”, the multifaceted field of indoor maps for people with blindness, visual as well as mobility impairments will be addressed. In particular, the usefulness and relevance of freely available indoor map data will be presented, the need for specific accessibility information will be explained, and the current state of the art for accessible map display will be shown. Furthermore, solution ideas for collecting required data will be presented and discussed. The focus is on the assumption that travelers want to get information about local conditions in advance.

The relevance of this topic is complex. Digital accessibility is increasingly enforced by the EU directive on barrier-free access to web offers. For digital maps, however, there are as yet neither standards on how to implement this nor sufficient data that comprehensively describe the accessibility of our physical environment. The latter is especially true for buildings, as there are only a few georeferenced indoor maps (e.g., on OpenStreet-Map) that are suitable for barrier-free representation of buildings.


Analyzing the Design of Tactile Indoor Maps

Engel C., Weber G. (2021) Analyzing the Design of Tactile Indoor Maps. In: Ardito C. et al. (eds) Human-Computer Interaction – INTERACT 2021. INTERACT 2021. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, vol 12932. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-85623-6_26

Abstract: Tactile maps are feasible to increase the mobility of people with blindness and to achieve spatial information of unknown environments. Exploring tactile maps could be a hard task. Research on the design of tactile maps, especially the design and meaningfulness of tactile symbols, mostly addresses outdoor environments. The design of tactile indoor maps has been studied less frequently, although they differ significantly from outdoor environments. Therefore, in this paper, 58 tactile indoor maps have been investigated in terms of the design of the headline, additional map information, legend, walls and information presentation types used. In addition, the design of common objects for indoor environments, such as doors, entrances and exits, toilets, stairs and elevators, has been examined in more detail and commonly used symbols have been extracted. These findings form the basis for further user studies to gain insights into the effective design of indoor maps.

https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-85623-6_26


„Travelling more independently: A requirements analysis for accessible journeys to unknown buildings for people with visual impairments”

Christin Engel, Karin Müller, Angela Constantinescu, Claudia Loitsch, Vanessa Petrausch, Gerhard Weber, Rainer Stiefelhagen (2020)
The 22nd International ACM SIGACCESS Conference on Computers and Accessibility (ASSETS 2020)

Abstract:
It is much more difficult for people with visual impairments to plan and implement a journey to unknown places than for sighted people, because in addition to the usual travel arrangements, they also need to know whether the different parts of the travel chain are accessible at all. The need for information is presumably therefore very high and ranges from knowledge about the accessibility of public transport as well as outdoor and indoor environments. However, to the best of our knowledge, there is no study that examines in-depth requirements of both the planning of a trip and its implementation, looking separately at the various special needs of people with low vision and blindness. In this paper, we present a survey with 106 people with visual impairments, in which we examine the strategies they use to prepare for a journey to unknown buildings, how they orient themselves in unfamiliar buildings and what materials they use. Our analysis shows that requirements for people with blindness and low vision differ. The feedback from the participants reveals that there is a large information gap, especially for orientation in buildings, regarding maps, accessibility of buildings and supporting systems. In particular, there is a lack of availability of indoor maps.

https://doi.org/10.1145/3373625.3417022

Talk on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wJDUHmUGjws


„AccessibleMaps: Addressing Gaps in Maps for People with Visual and Mobility Impairments”

Claudia Loitsch, Karin Müller, Christin Engel, Gerhard Weber and Rainer Stiefelhagen (2020).
17th International Conference on Computers Helping People with Special Needs

Abstract:
Persons with visual and mobility impairments often have problems when planning and implementing a trip to unknown buildings due to the inaccessibility of the built environment, the unavailability of reliable information, and missing mobility-supporting applications for indoor environments. One reason is the lack of barrier-free indoor maps enriched with accessibility information to support the diverse needs of people with disabilities. This paper provides a comprehensive review of user requirements, mobility-related applications and digital maps. We identify different gaps in supporting indoor mobility, i.e lack of (i) dedi-cated requirement analyses for mobility in unknown buildings, (ii) proce-dures to improve the coverage of digital indoor maps, (iii) standards for barrier-free map representations and (iv) location-based indoor services that meet the needs of people with disabilities. Besides, we introduce the AccessibleMaps project, which addresses some of these gaps by automat-ically generating indoor maps enriched with accessibility features.

https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-58805-2_34


„Analysis of Indoor Maps Accounting the Needs of People with Impairments”

Julian Striegl, Claudia Lotisch, Jan Schmalfuss-Schwarz and Gerhard Weber (2020)
17th International Conference on Computers Helping People with Special Needs

Abstract:
Digital indoor maps are still in early stages of development but the demand for indoor location-based services is increasing contin-uously. Especially people with disabilities can benefit from accurate in-door maps with information in regards to the accessibility of indoor en-vironments. Currently there are no widely accepted open standards for the expression of accessibility information in indoor maps. Furthermore, there is a lack of methods to assess if indoor maps comply with the re-quirements of people with disabilities in terms of orientation and indoor navigation. To address this problem, this paper presents a first analy-sis of the quantity and quality of indoor maps exemplary for selected cities in OpenStreetMap. The results show that the number of mapped indoor environments in OpenStreetMap is still sparse. On average only one building per city has a completely mapped indoor environment and the number of buildings with accessibility information is even smaller. This indicates that crowd-sourcing approaches should be supported with automated mapping processes and an ongoing analysis of indoor maps accounting the needs of people with disabilities should be conducted in order to ensure the quality of provided indoor geospatial information.

https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-58805-2_36


Considering Time-critical Barriers in Indoor Routing for People with Disabilities”

Jan Schmalfuß-Schwarz, Claudia Loitsch and Gerhard Weber (2020).
17th International Conference on Computers Helping People with Special Needs

Abstract:
The usage of indoor map applications is growing and their importance is also increasing within the group of people with disabili-ties. Therefore, different approaches were already developed to support the users on their way. Though, these solutions don’t prevent them from running into a dead end because of unknown insurmountable barriers. These barriers are often not included inside the data set of a building since they have no fixed locations and are temporary. For this reason, it is important to classify them on their characteristics and to develop a sys-tem that detects them and makes them available for routing applications. To address this, we present a classification of barriers founded on their time dependency within this paper and show an exemplary subdivision based on the three barrier types stairs, defect elevator, and wet floor. Furthermore, we draft a first proposal for the possibilities of develop-ing an adaptive system for routing people with disabilities that captures time-critical barriers.

https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-58805-2_37