Oct 2011

Anke Brocke, Touch the Map: Making Maps Accessible for the Blind

Speaker: Anke Brock, IRIT research lab, Toulouse, France
Title: Touch the Map: Making Maps Accessible for the Blind
Human navigation is a very complex phenomenon that mainly relies on vision. Indeed, vision provides the pedestrian with landmarks and dynamic cues (e.g. optic flow) that are essential for position and orientation updating, estimation of distance, etc. Hence, for a blind person, navigating in familiar environment is not obvious, and becomes especially complicated in unknown environments. Exploration of geographic maps at home (for travel preparation) or even on mobile phones (for guidance) may represent valuable assistance. As maps are visual by essence and hence inaccessible for the blind, multimodal interactive maps undoubtedly represent a solution. Multimodal interactive maps are based on a combination of multi-touch devices and tactile (e.g. embossed) paper maps. However, design and realization of interactive maps for the blind imply several challenges, as for example making multi-touch surfaces accessible for the blind. In this talk the concept and design of the maps, the work with the blind users, the technical challenges as well as the psychological background will be presented.

About Anke:
Anke Brock is currently a PhD candidate in Human-Computer Interaction at the IRIT research lab in Toulouse (France). She has worked several years as a research engineer for navigation and driver assistance systems at Bosch in Hildesheim (Germany). Anke has obtained her master’s degree in Human-Computer Interaction in September 2010 at the University of Toulouse. Since then her research interests include accessibility of technology for the blind, interactive maps, tabletops, multimodal interaction, spatial cognition and haptic exploration as well as accessibility of the participatory design process.