Needs and Use of the Information in the Environment by People with Visual Impairment

  • John Rey-GalindoEmail author
  • Libertad Rizo-Corona
  • Elvia Luz González-Muñoz
  • Carlos Aceves-González
Conference paper
Part of the Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing book series (AISC, volume 824)


Most of the information we use in our daily commutes is presented in a visual way. However, this volume of information could be useless for people with a visual impairment, for them it exists some resources such as tactile flooring or braille information points that can constitute their main guiding tools in public spaces. Although, there is little information available about the extent of the real utility of these elements. Furthermore, it has been detected a gap of information regarding the characteristics of the commutes and needs of people with visual impairment.

This study aimed to identify the information needs of people with visual impairment through identifying the following aspects: (1) Daily life activities, (2) Orientation strategies and way finding in the complex built environments, (3) Frequency and way of use of the signals provided in the environment by people with complete blindness or severe visual impairment, (4) Types of discrepancies, errors, and omissions in the characteristics of the environment, which reduce the usability of the space and might put the user in danger, and (5) Safety perception.

Data were obtained through a semi-structured interview that was responded by 18 adults with complete blindness and severe visual impairment. As references for orientation, the most common aspects were textures or level changes on the floor, as well as ambience elements like noise and smell. On the other hand, the information presented in braille was reported as little used, due to the difficulty to find the information. In regard to safety, participants reported feeling unsafe, most of them mentioned street crossing as a major risk point.

The use of auditory, tactile or even olfactory signals can provide important information while commuting, making paramount the design of signals that consider these senses to take advantage of them. It is required as well to assess the characteristics of the existent tactile signals and their location to identify opportunities for improvement to ensure the safety and independence of people with visual impairment.


Visual impairment Information resources Information design 



A huge thank is extended to people at the Organización de Invidentes Unidos de Jalisco for their great willingness to collaborate in this research. We also thank the students Audrey Benitez, Paulina Salas, Rafael Ramos and Alejandro Martínez, for their great collaboration in this investigation.


  1. 1.
    Bourne R, Flaxman S, Braithwaite T, Cicinelli M, Das A, Jonas J, Keeffe K, Kempen JH, Leasher J, Limburg H, Naidoo K, Pesudovs K, Resnikoff S, Silvester A, Stevens GA, Tahhan N, Wong TY, Taylor HR, Vision Loss Expert Group (2017) Magnitude, temporal trends, and projections of the global prevalence of blindness and distance and near vision impairment: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Lancet Global Health 5:888–897CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    World Health Organization (2012) World Health Organization. Get de,
  3. 3.
    Lam D, Rao SK, Ratra V, Liu Y, Mitchell P, King J, Tassignon MJ, Jonas J, Pang CP, Chang, DF (2015) Cataract. Nat Rev Dis Primers, 1–15Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Kalloniatis M, Fletcher EL (2004) Retinitis pigmentosa: understanding the clinical presentation, mechanisms and treatment options. Clin Exp Optom 87:65–80CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Takahashi H, Miyake Y, Horiguchi M, Tomida N, Takakuwa H (2005) Unique characteristics of two types of retinitis pigmentosa patients with different rod sensitivities. Jpn Ophthalmol Soc 49:114–120CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Nabors D, Gibbs M, Sandt L, Rocchi S, Eugine W, Lipinski M (2007) Pedestrian road safety audit guidelines and prompt lists. Federal Highway Administration Office of Safety, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Atkin R (2010) SightLine. Designing better streets for people with low vision. Helen Hamlyn Centre, Royal College of Art, LondonGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Tennoy A, Oksenholt KV, Fearnley N, Matthews B (2015) Standards for usable and safe environments for sight impaired. Munic Eng 168:24–31CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (1998) Guidance on the use of tactile paving surfaces. DETR, LondonGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Robson C (2011) Real world research. John Wiley & Sons Ltd., ChichesterGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Braun V, Clarke V (2006) Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qual Res Psychol 3:77–101CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute (2009) The Braille Literacy Crisis in America. National Federation of the Blind, BaltimoreGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    TNS BMRB (2010) The impact of shared surface streets and shared use pedestrian/cycle paths on the mobility and independence of blind and partially sighted people. The Guide Dogs for the Blind AssociationGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Ergonomics Research CentreUniversity of GuadalajaraGuadalajaraMexico
  2. 2.University of GuadalajaraGuadalajaraMexico

Personalised recommendations