Virtual reality as orientation and mobility aid for blind people

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to examine the past 15 years of research and development (RandD) on the role of virtual environments (VEs) as an orientation and mobility (OandM) aid to enhance skills and to train people who are blind or newly blind. Design/methodology/approach: This paper describes and examines studies of 21 VE systems developed specifically to help people who are blind improve their OandM skills. These VE systems, equipped to supply appropriate perceptual and conceptual spatial information through haptic and auditory sensorial channels, are mainly focussed on two goals: helping congenitally blind or late blind persons to collect spatial information in advance and supporting people who are newly blind in practicing their OandM skills during rehabilitation. The RandD studies represented in these 21 studies were examined along three dimensions: descriptive information, system, and research. Findings: This paper highlights weaknesses and strengths of VE systems that have been developed in the past 15 years as OandM aids for people who are blind. These results have the potential to influence future RandD in this field. Originality/value: The author hopes that this paper will influence future RandD in this field and lead to accessible OandM VEs in practice and research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95-107
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Assistive Technologies
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2014


  • Auditory feedback
  • Blind
  • Cognitive map
  • Haptic feedback
  • Orientation and mobility
  • Virtual environment


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