Workshop Report: Digital Solutions for Inclusive Mobility?

Claudia Loitsch & Karin Müller

This workshop report was produced as part of the largest German-speaking professional conference in the field of human-computer interaction, “Mensch und Computer 2020”. The report summarises the contents of the workshop held during the conference. The workshop included an exchange and presentation of various projects in the field of digital mobility. The report gives an insight into the following topics:

  • AccessibleMaps – Accessible Indoor Maps
  • Linked Data for Accessibility
  • ASSIST ALL: Virtual assistant for indoor orientation for people with disabilities
  • DYNAMIK A requirement-oriented navigation app
  • WheelShare: Development of an accessible outdoor map using machine learning and crowd sourcing

The report can be downloaded below in accessible form and in German language only:

Challenges for people with impairments in unfamiliar buildings

Christin Engel

This report presents the results of an online survey with 136 participants with blindness, visual impairment and mobility impairment, which was conducted in early 2020 as part of the research project. The survey was created as part of the target group analysis and needs assessment. The aim of the study was to analyse the current practice of people with blindness, visual impairment as well as mobility impairment in orientation and finding their way in unfamiliar buildings. In addition to orientation strategies, information about challenges in orientation and the need for information about the accessibility of buildings were analysed. Furthermore, the survey provides information about the participants’ experiences with unfamiliar buildings, with navigation applications and maps. Requirements for maps and preferred map formats and types were also recorded. The results of the survey form the basis for designing a target group-oriented and needs-based map application for buildings. Within the framework of the project, requirements for the development of a mobile, digital map application are derived from this.

This report is currently only available in German.

Published Papers

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.

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.

„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
The 22nd International ACM SIGACCESS Conference on Computers and Accessibility (ASSETS 2020)

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.

Talk on YouTube:

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

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

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.

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

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

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.

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

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

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.

„Can We Unify Perception and Localization in Assisted Navigation? An Indoor Semantic Visual Positioning System for Visually Impaired People”

Haoye Chen, Yingzhi Zhang, Kailun Yang, Manuel Martinez, Karin Müller and Rainer Stiefelhagen
17th International Conference on Computers Helping People with Special Needs

Navigation assistance has made significant progress in the last years with the emergence of different approaches, allowing them to perceive their surroundings and localize themselves accurately, which greatly improves the mobility of visually impaired people. However, most of the existing systems address each of the tasks individually, which in-creases the response time that is clearly not beneficial for a safety-critical application. In this paper, we aim to cover scene perception and visual localization needed by navigation assistance in a unified way. We present a semantic visual localization system to help visually impaired people to be aware of their locations and surroundings in indoor environments. Our method relies on 3D reconstruction and semantic segmentation of RGB-D images captured from a pair of wearable smart glasses. We can inform the user of an upcoming object via audio feedback so that the user can be prepared to avoid obstacles or interact with the object, which means that visually impaired people can be more active in an unfamiliar environment.


W3C Workshop Maps for the Web 2020

Accessible Indoor Maps: Information Need and Automated Solutions to Address Gaps in Maps for People with Disabilities

Julian Striegl, Claudia Loitsch

Workshop Report: