Navigating an unfamiliar place is uniquely challenging for people with disabilities. People with blindness, deafblindness, visual impairment or low vision, as well as those who use wheelchairs, can travel more independently in urban areas with the aid of effective wayfinding technology. A new report from the National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC) explores how to leverage low-cost methods to enable people to more easily move through public, urban indoor and outdoor spaces.

The study, led by Martin Swobodzinski and Amy Parker of Portland State University, used focus groups, two case studies, and an in-person structured wayfinding experience on the PSU campus to find the most helpful ways of getting around. Tactile maps were found to be a very useful resource, with an accessible mobile app also showing promise as an orientation and mobility aid.

The researcher will share more details about this project in a free webinar on December 15: Individual Wayfinding in the Context of Visual Impairment, Blindness, and Deafblindness.

WHY IS THIS RESEARCH IMPORTANT?

Environments and...

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Researchers Amy Parker, Martin Swobodzinski, Julie Wright, Kyrsten Hansen and Becky Morton of Portland State University, along with Elizabeth Schaller of American Printing House for the Blind, have published a literature review in Frontiers in Education: Wayfinding Tools for People With Visual Impairments in Real-World Settings: A Literature Review of Recent Studies.

The literature review, published in October 2021, and a case study published in September 2021 in the same journal are both related to an ongoing project led by Swobodzinski. The project, Seamless Wayfinding by Individuals with Functional Disability in Indoor and Outdoor Spaces: An Investigation into Lived Experiences, Data Needs, and Technology Requirements, is funded by the National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC).

The October article reviews 35 peer reviewed articles in order to identify and describe the types of wayfinding devices that people who are blind, visually impaired or deafblind use while navigating indoors and/or outdoors in dynamic travel contexts.

Within this...

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Portland State University researchers Martin Swobodzinski and Amy Parker, with student co-authors Julie Wright, Kyrsten Hansen and Becky Morton, have published a new article in Frontiers in Education: "Seamless Wayfinding by a Deafblind Adult on an Urban College Campus: A Case Study on Wayfinding Performance, Information Preferences, and Technology Requirements."

The article reports on an empirical evaluation of the experience, performance, and perception of a deafblind adult participant in an experimental case study on pedestrian travel in an urban environment. The case study assessed the degree of seamlessness of the wayfinding experience pertaining to routes that traverse both indoor and outdoor spaces under different modalities of technology-aided pedestrian travel. Specifically, an adult deafblind pedestrian traveler completed three indoor/outdoor routes on an urban college campus using three supplemental wayfinding support tools: a mobile application, written directions, and a tactile map.

Results indicate that wayfinding performance and confidence differed considerably between the three wayfinding support tools. The tactile map afforded the most...

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If you could securely pick up your packages on your commute by public transit, from any carrier—be it USPS, FedEx, UPS or other companies, would you? Transit agencies could be missing a potential strategy to increase ridership by offering common carrier parcel lockers at transit facilities. 

Mitigating the demands on our urban transportation networks by consolidating parcel deliveries at high trafficked transit facilities could also benefit retailers, logistics and carrier companies, and consumers. But how do we ensure the equitable distribution of these sites for disadvantaged populations, while keeping accessibility in mind?

Using real world data from the Portland, OR region, a new study from researchers at Portland State University (PSU) offers a multiple-criteria approach using accessibility and equity metrics, including ridership, mode of transportation, spatial distribution, and sociodemographic profiles of coverage areas. 

Limited Free Access: The article in Transportation Research Record, "Accessibility and Equity Analysis of Transit Facility Sites for Common Carrier Parcel Lockers," by Katherine Keeling, Jaclyn Schaefer and Miguel Figliozzi, will be...

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A man with sunglasses and a cane carries a smartphone in his hand, appearing to be listening to its audio
Photo by diego_cervo
Martin Swobodzinski and Amy Parker, Portland State University

It's 2019, and with the explosion of mobile technology that has affected all other areas of life, it would seem to be a golden age for people living with visual impairments. Like never before in history, blind, deaf-blind, and low-vision individuals can access a plethora of mobile apps offering a range of services to aid in navigation and wayfinding. But the words "explosion" and "plethora" hint at an underlying problem: there are so many different apps, each one addressing only a segment of their mobility...

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The final report on this research is available now: Design for an Aging Population

Published in April 2017, this study sought to increase understanding of the obstacles faced by people with impairments in vision, hearing and/or mobility, which are common issues for older people, and generate physical product solutions.

The research shows that aging riders face conceptual, physical and social barriers that impact their willingness to use buses. Using the bus was seen as inconvenient, time consuming, physically draining and potentially frustrating. Priority seating areas designated for older and disabled users fill quickly. People with mobility challenges may use bulky walkers and require the availability of grab bars, and users of wheeled mobility devices need different device security. Several situations noted in the study show that physically challenged riders are subject to awkward, uncomfortable social dynamics more than other bus users. Innovation in easy access seats and secure WhMD stations at the front of the bus are critical for older users, as it makes riding the bus less draining and more safe.

This research was presented at TRB's 2017 annual meeting. See below for our coverage of the research at TRB.


Seniors make up a large...

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OTREC was pleased to brief members of the Joint Policy Advisory Committee on Transportation on August 3, 2009. Staff provided an members with an overview of the OTREC’s research, education, and technology transfer programs. Students Nikki Wheeler and Nathan McNeil summarized their involvement in two projecs: “Investigation of Intersection Safety for Cyclists by Age and Gender” a “Evaluation of Bike Boxes at Signalized Intersections”. Additional faculty participated by providing a summary of their research focus.

The video begins at 1:24.

This project will help demonstrate how sustainable ("green") streets contribute to the well-being of a community, including the physical and mental health of older and younger adults, along with the environment and economy. The project will collect data in Portland, OR neighborhoods to answer the following research questions:

Are residents living near sustainable streets more physically active in their neighborhood?

Do residents living near sustainable streets interact with neighbors more and demonstrate higher levels of neighborhood social capital?

What are residents’ opinions of sustainable streets?

Are there variations in responses to sustainable streets by age or other demographics? In particular, how to older adults differ from younger adults?

Does the implementation process and design affect green street outcomes?

Do sustainable streets affect home values?

How do green streets affect stormwater flows, urban heat island, and carbon sequestration in Portland neighborhoods?

The project includes a survey of residents in two neighborhoods with green street features and two control neighborhoods; an environmental assessment of the green street treatments; and an analysis of housing values using a hedonic modeling approach.

The project will be guided by an Advisory council of members of various stakeholder organizations...

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PRESENTATION ARCHIVE

Small towns and cities outside of national parks and other major natural amenities throughout the western United States are becoming increasingly popular places to visit and live. As a result, many of these gateway and natural amenity region (GNAR) communities—including places such as Jackson, Wyoming, and Moab, Utah—are facing a variety of “big city” issues, such as severe congestion, lack of affordable workforce housing, and concerns about sprawl and density. This webinar will introduce the planning and transportation concerns being experienced by GNAR communities throughout the west. It will then share the tools and resources developed by the University of Utah to train planners to work in these unique communities and to help these communities enhance livability and sustainable transportation options. The webinar will also introduce the University of Utah’s new Gateway and Natural Amenity...

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