Gordon and colleagues have introduced the concept of visual accessibility as a parallel to physical accessibility. In the context of architecture, visual accessibility is defined as the use of vision to travel efficiently and safely through an environment, to perceive the spatial layout of key features in the environment, and to keep track of one’s location and orientation in the environment. Gordon and colleagues have described the impact of environmental variables, such as lighting arrangement and visual texture, on visual accessibility in impaired vision. Our DEVA project (Designing Visually Accessible Spaces) also includes Minnesota faculty colleague Dan Kersten, University of Utah colleagues Bill Thompson and Sarah Creem-Regehr, and Rob Shakespeare from Indiana University. One product of this research is software that predicts the visibility of architectural features that can be hazardous for people with low vision such as steps or low-contrast posts or benches.
Gordon’s research also addresses strategies for enhancing indoor wayfinding by visually impaired pedestrians through building design and assistive technology. One project involves advising the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on methods for enhancing airport wayfinding by people with visual impairment.
Legge, G.E., Beckmann, P.J., Tjan, B.S., Havey, G., Kramer, K., Rolkosky, D., Gage, R., Chen, M., Puchakayala, S. & Rangarajan, A. (2013). Indoor navigation by people with visual impairment using a digital sign system. PLoS ONE, 8(10), e76783. (article) (PDF)
See our video on the DSS system created by Paul Beckmann here. If you would like to see our digital sign system in action watch our videos on youtube: DSS-Explorer mode, DSS-Tag Browsing mode, DSS Routing mode
Legge, G.E., Downey, C., Giudice, N.A. & Tjan, B.S. (2016). Indoor Airport Wayfinding for Blind and Visually Impaired Travelers. Report to the Federal Aviation Administration, No. DOT/FAA/TC-TN16/54. (PDF)
Thompson, W.B., Legge, G.E., Kersten, D.J., Shakespeare, R.A. & Lei, Q. (2017). Simulating visibility under reduced acuity and contrast sensitivity. Journal of the Optical Society of America A, 34(4), 583-593. (article) (PDF)