Towards a Training Framework for Improved Assistive Mobile App Acceptance and Use Rates by Blind and Visually Impaired People
2. Materials and Methods
- A simple keyboard for the interaction of blind people to enable them to select routes and other available functions,
- application synchronization with traffic lights and weather information, and
- the utilization of information telematics of the Athens Organization of Civil Transport (OASA) for routes and urban transport stops.
Interviews with BVIs
3. Results and Discussion
3.1. Particular Characteristics of the BVI
- Psychological Features
- BVIs need to be organized in order to feel secure. They are afraid of being lost and not being able to find the items they need.Possible Related Evidence or Common Practices of the BVI:
- They map in their mind any space or object they perceive.
- This mapping also includes dimensions that correspond to other senses. For example, they memorize and relate sounds and smells to specific points or places of their route.
- The fear of being lost intensifies for the BVI when they visit an unfamiliar place.Possible Related Evidence or Common Practices of the BVI:
- To avoid getting panicked, the BVIs are often advised to only visit alone places they are familiar with.
- Otherwise, they prefer using a taxi the first time they go to a destination.
- BVIs are reluctant (or they feel insecure) to use or trust someone offering a service which is not supported by a well specified and understood system.Possible Related Evidence or Common Practices of the BVI:
- They do not trust taxis which are not connected to central reservation/call systems. In other words, they don’t pick a taxi randomly from the road. They always call a taxi by phone or the internet because this assures them that it will be a real one.
- Social inclusion is a very important need of the BVI. They often feel different, even ashamed, when they have to use the white cane (e.g., right after getting off the bus).Possible Related Evidence or Common Practices of the BVI:
- They feel that they are not as capable as other people.
- The idea of getting noticed by others is unpleasant to them.
- The BVIs learn not to be spontaneous when the move. They have learned to be systematic and not to leave emotions or sudden thoughts interrupt their concentration to their travel. They rarely are relaxed when they travel.
- The BVI do not answer phone calls or, generally, use a smartphone while walking. In order to use their smartphones they first have to stop walking.
- In fact, often BVIs (especially those who were born blind) are afraid of the idea of having (or gaining) their vision. This would dramatically change their way of living, while they would have to confront with the true shapes and colors of objects, animals, and persons (as most importantly with their appearance).
- The image that a BVI creates for something or someone is usually better than the real one.
- BVIs that have some minimal vision often place their smartphones near their faces as if they can see, despite the voice functionalities of the apps they intend to use. This possibly implies that they do not easily surrender to the idea that their vision is obsolete.
- The mentality of a BVI that once had functional vision is often much worst that this of a BVI by birth (or one that does not remember how it was to be able to see) ceteris paribus.
- BVIs are conservative and fear to change their way of living. As this could be a consequence of adopting a new technology, they usually are not eager do so.
- Another reason which makes them reluctant to use new technologies is the lack of confidence in their abilities. In other words, they fear that they will not be able to properly use new technologies, or even that they will cause problems in their attempts to use them (for example, blocking a cell phone).
- BVI Practices (Preferences, Habits, Facts, etc.)
- In general, taxis are the most preferable means of transport for a BVI.
- The younger BVI use the internet for choosing a means of transport while the older ones prefer to be accompanied.
- Most of the BVIs choose (and prefer) to have someone to escort them.
- They use ‘smart stops’ when they take a route they already know.
- They ask the bus driver where to get off the bus.
- They use hearing to perceive when cars are moving or if a car is coming toward their direction.
- If they are confused by the narrow streets, they recall odors they have retained from previous times.
- They recall particular details along the track to their destination.
- When they follow a track for the first time, they memorize characteristics of their route (step counting, direction, sounds, and odors).
- They also often ask people that they meet on their way.
- When they get off the bus, they rely on hearing, smell, and touch, and count steps in order to move on the sidewalk.
- They always follow the special tactile paving on the sidewalk to avoid permanent obstacles.
- If they make a mistake (step counting, loss of direction, etc.) and feel lost, they try to return back to the sidewalk and start again from the beginning.
- BVIs are often employed in professions that require particular ability to identify by touch (for example as physiotherapists).
- They learn mostly by word of mouth that an application is good and useful (e.g., e-radio, google translate, and OASA telematics).
- They lose their smartphones more often than a sighted person does.
- Blind people are also familiar with having a wearable device. They believe it is a good solution to attach such device on the cane or to develop a cane with such additional functionality.
3.2. Discussion—Towards a Training Framework for the BVI
- Training in familiar environments: the BVI employ their functional senses to perceive the environment. In case that the training takes place in an unfamiliar environment, mental resources of the BVI will be assigned to this function.
- Tasks to be learned must be easily feasible and understandable: in case that the BVI must be trained to perform more complex tasks, these tasks will be divided into a series of smaller tasks, each of them not requiring much effort from the BVI. The aim of this process is to prevent the BVI from questioning their abilities to successfully complete the tasks.
- Adaptation of the tasks to the systematic way that a BVI acts: the BVI have adopted a very methodological way of doing things in order to compensate (or be protected) from the implications of their visual impairment. The learning and exercise of these systematic practices by a BVI can be clearly considered as training and applications of algorithmic thinking, respectively. This observation provides a clear perspective concerning the approach that must be optimally followed when the apps are introduced to people of this group. Specifically, this observation leads to the following suggestions:
- The tasks on which the BVI will be trained must require sequential smaller actions. These actions should be analytically presented to the BVI.
- Before teaching the BVI about each task, exactly one goal must be described. This suggestion stems from the fact that the BVI find perplexed any multidimensional grid of actions. In other words, the description of multiple options within a task should be avoided when this is possible. This is in line also with the first suggestion about the sequential structure of the tasks to be taught.
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|Gender||Age||Degree of Vision Loss||Cause of Vision Loss||Digital Sophistication|
|P4||Male||40||Almost complete (95%)||By birth||Low|
|P5||Male||40||Almost complete (95%)||By birth||Low|
|P6||Female||55||Complete||Retinopathy (23 years old)||Low|
|P7||Male||40||Almost complete (90–95%)||By birth||Low|
|P8||Male||40||Complete||Cancer (7 years old)||Low|
|P9||Male||35||Almost complete (>95%)||Benign tumor (15 years old)||Low|
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Theodorou, P.; Meliones, A. Towards a Training Framework for Improved Assistive Mobile App Acceptance and Use Rates by Blind and Visually Impaired People. Educ. Sci. 2020, 10, 58. https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci10030058
Theodorou P, Meliones A. Towards a Training Framework for Improved Assistive Mobile App Acceptance and Use Rates by Blind and Visually Impaired People. Education Sciences. 2020; 10(3):58. https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci10030058Chicago/Turabian Style
Theodorou, Paraskevi, and Apostolos Meliones. 2020. "Towards a Training Framework for Improved Assistive Mobile App Acceptance and Use Rates by Blind and Visually Impaired People" Education Sciences 10, no. 3: 58. https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci10030058