institut pour la ville en mouvement

le journal de l'ivmretour actions

Urban mobility
and autonomy for the blind
and partially sighted


New technologies to help people with visual disabilities to move freely:Issues, innovations and prospects
Programme d’actions de l’IVM
- Networks - stations - sites
Ongoing development of a prototype guide to the Paris Ile de France transport networks
- HOMERE
A survey on blind access to tourism and transport websites
Download surveys and research



New technologies to help people with visual disabilities to move freely: Issues, innovations and prospects

Seminar organised by the Institut pour la ville en mouvement (City on the Move) in partnership with the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie on 24 November 2003

- Synthesis-

Two years ago, City on the Move (IVM) in partnership with the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie organised a conference to discuss different ways to help the blind and partially sighted to move freely, notably using the new technologies.
IVM wanted to meet the stakeholders and specialists in this field once again, in order to look at the progress made in recent years and the potential of the various new approaches and technologies.
It therefore organised another seminar with the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie to present and discuss the prospects afforded by the different technologies in helping people with visual disabilities detect obstacles, find their way around, orientate themselves geographically and plan journeys in the city.
Companies involved in developing such instruments, researchers, professionals, experts and the different stakeholders were invited to take part in these discussions.
The technological approach have been illustrated by examples taken from the different categories of need: orientation, obstacle detection, route recognition and technology support.

Download the programme of the seminar


IVM programme of actions

The increasing complexity of urban life makes modern cities even more dangerous and difficult to negotiate for blind and partially sighted people.
How can they be helped to acquire the essential information for getting round the urban maze? How can their safety be improved? How can they obtain access to all the resources the modern city offers?

The Institut pour la ville en mouvement (City on the Move) has undertaken three practical projects following an initial programmes of surveys and discussions.


- Networks - stations - sites
Ongoing development of a prototype guide to the Paris Ile de France transport networks


In partnership with the Ile-de-France region and the RATP rail network, IVM is designing and developing a prototype relief guide to the Ile-de-France transport networks and a prototype relief map for installation in the Porte de la Villette, Porte de Pantin and Basilique Saint-Denis metro stations.

Preliminary surveys conducted by City on the Move have shown that the blind and partially sighted have very little information on their environment. Apart from a few isolated initiatives, there are currently no tactile geographical documents which provide blind and partially sighted people with general references on their region and city. The loss of information due to their disability is very significant.
The “Networks – stations – sites” tactile aids project includes different components designed to assist with planning and travel for improved access to tourist sites.
It fulfils a strong demand among blind and partially sighted people for information sources appropriate to their disability, and offers touch-based accessibility to the same information available to general users.
The prototype will be in relief and in colour, and will also be fitted with a speaking device in French and English.
Presentation of prototypes in June 2004.




HOMERE

HOMERE (haptic environment exploration and recognition system operating on a virtual model) helps people picture complex places by touch and by sound, so that they can simulate itineraries in advance.

This demonstration model was built by IVM with Ondim, in partnership with the AEC, and presented at the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie in May 2002, as part of the Braillenet and technologies colloquium. Development on the prototype could not continue due to lack of additional funding (research and industry).
It runs on a standard PC platform, using haptic (touch and motion) and robotics technologies developed by the AEC; it uses the new virtual reality technologies to provide blind people with a multisensory system for planning and simulating travel in urban areas.
Using a virtual model of a complex space, people can build up a multisensory picture of an urban site.
Users move through a computer model of a virtual world (here, the application is demonstrated on an itinerary within the Cité des Sciences) and explore their environment by effort feedback from a mechanic arm, by a process similar to using a stick, which provides feedback through touch and its associated sounds.
As they move through the virtual model, they hear the characteristic sounds of the place where they are and identify their source.
By experiencing the itinerary in advance and memorising the virtual space, they can subsequently move more easily around the real sites.




A survey on blind access to tourism and transport websites (Paris Ile de France, Regional Tourism Committee, Pariscope, SNCF, RATP).

This analysis of the websites and the difficulties the blind and partially sighted encounter in obtaining information, was conducted by the Ergonomics Laboratory at University Paris V and passed on to the relevant bodies.

These days, urban mobility requires advance information on activities and venues, times and transport. The need for information is growing and the Web has gradually become a primary source. Blind and partially sighted people, for their part, are beginning to have the technological means to browse the Web using voice synthesis, touch screens and Braille printers.
However, the visually impaired, and particularly the blind, experience specific problems not only in physically getting about, especially in unfamiliar environments, but also in looking up travel information, notably on tourist destinations. It is increasingly common for such information to be available on the Web, but it is not generally designed for people with visual disabilities.
The survey by the Ergonomics Laboratory at University Paris V has created a better understanding of the problems in accessing websites about transport (RATP, SNCF) and tourism (Paris-Ile de France, Pariscope). It has also identified the type of information that is more specifically targeted at the blind and partially sighted, analysed how they go about looking for information and the difficulties they have in browsing and understanding how the websites are put together.
This study provides generic recommendations on website construction and specific recommendations for each of the sites studied, in order to raise awareness among Web designers.

Project leader: François Ascher, Professor at the French Institute of Town Planning, University Paris 8, Chairman of the IVM scientific and steering committee
Project manager: Anne Dupont, architect
aem.dupont@wanadoo.fr



Download « Du droit à la mobilité urbaine des déficients visuels au plaisir de la ville pour tous » Isolde Devalière, CSTB (Etude réalisée pour l’IVM)

Downoad summary of the study conducted by Jean-Claude Sperandio, Gérard Uzan and Nathalie Jobard

Download the report of the Computer Ergonomics Laboratory, René Descartes University-Paris 5. "Difficulties encountered by blind and visually impaired persons in consulting transport and tourism web sites".

Bilan – Programme de l’atelier mobilité urbaine et autonomie des personnes aveugles et malvoyantes (avril 2001)
Download the programme

Seminar organised by the Institut pour la ville en mouvement (City on the Move) in partnership with the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie on 24 November 2003
Download the programme of the seminar