A virtual environment for people who are blind - a usability study

Orly Lahav*, David Schloerb, Siddarth Kumar, Mandyam A. Srinivasan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: This research is based on the hypothesis that the supply of appropriate perceptual and conceptual information through compensatory sensorial channels may assist people who are blind with anticipatory exploration. The two main goals of the research are: evaluation of different modalities (haptic and audio) and navigation tools; and evaluation of spatial cognitive mapping employed by people who are blind. Design/methodology/approach: In this research the BlindAid system, which allows the user to explore a virtual environment, was developed and tested. The research included four participants who are totally blind. Findings: The preliminary findings confirm that the system enabled participants to develop comprehensive cognitive maps by exploring the virtual environment. The BlindAid system could be used as a training-simulator for O&M rehabilitation training, as a O&M diagnostic tool, and to support people who are blind in exploring and collecting spatial information in advance. Originality/value: This preliminary study aims to highlight which VE properties could provide perceptual and conceptual spatial information and allow users who are blind to gather and expand their spatial information.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)38-52
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Assistive Technologies
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2012


  • Blindness
  • Cognitive mapping
  • Haptic interaction
  • Virtual environment


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