This paper presents the integration of a virtual environment (BlindAid) in an orientation and mobility rehabilitation program as a training aid for people who are blind. BlindAid allows the users to interact with different virtual structures and objects through auditory and haptic feedback. This research explores if and how use of the BlindAid in conjunction with a rehabilitation program can help people who are blind train themselves in familiar and unfamiliar spaces. The study, focused on nine participants who were congenitally, adventitiously, and newly blind, during their orientation and mobility rehabilitation program at the Carroll Center for the Blind (Newton, Massachusetts, USA). The research was implemented using virtual environment (VE) exploration tasks and orientation tasks in virtual environments and real spaces. The methodology encompassed both qualitative and quantitative methods, including interviews, a questionnaire, videotape recording, and user computer logs. The results demonstrated that the BlindAid training gave participants additional time to explore the virtual environment systematically. Secondly, it helped elucidate several issues concerning the potential strengths of the BlindAid system as a training aid for orientation and mobility for both adults and teenagers who are congenitally, adventitiously, and newly blind.
- Human-computer interface
- Virtual reality