2006 Conference General Sessions

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ASSESSMENT OF SATISFACTION AND USE OF AN ORIENTATION AID (TREKKER) BY A GROUP OF INDIVIDUALS WITH VISUAL IMPAIRMENTS (PILOT PROJECT)

Presenter(s)
Yves Jalbert
Institut Nazareth et Louis-Braille
4788, 6
ve
Montr
Quc H1Y 3N8
Day Phone: 514-864-1311
Fax: 514-864-1616
Email: y.jalbert@inspq.qc.ca

Presenter #2
Carole Zabihaylo
Institut Nazareth et Louis-Braille
1111 St-Charles Ouest
Longueuil Qu
c J4K 5G4
Day Phone: 450-463-1710
Fax: 450-463-0243
Email: zabi@videotron.ca

The Trekker, an orientation aid using Global Positioning System (GPS) will be assessed by gathering probative data, from persons with visual impairments on its utility, efficiency and safety.  

ASSESSMENT OF SATISFACTION AND USE OF AN ORIENTATION AID (TREKKER) BY A GROUP OF INDIVIDUALS WITH VISUAL IMPAIRMENTS (PILOT PROJECT)

Yves Jalbert 1, Carole Zabihaylo 1, Carole Guillemette 1
1 Institut Nazareth et Louis Braille

Without vision, everything is more difficult for persons with a visual impairment; urban elements such as street and store names, building or residence addresses are all visual landmarks inaccessible to them (1). Orientation aids have been in existence for several years now and two types of devices are used in orientation and mobility (2): electronic mobility aids allowing detection of obstacles located on the route of a person with a visual impairment, and orientation aids whose goal is to supplement the white cane or guide dog by providing information on the environment.

To our knowledge, in the literature, no scientific assessment of an orientation aids exists.  To fill in this gap somewhat, we will assess an orientation aid (Trekker), developed in Quebec by HumanWare, (VisuAide) in order to have probative data on its utility from persons with visual impairments.  Trekker is a is discreet orientation aid which uses the Global Positioning System (GPS) and digital maps to facilitate travel for persons with visual impairments in urban and rural environments.  The device allows the user to localize the user's position with increasing precision and recognizes area "points of interest".  It also permits to record spoken and written notes. In addition, Trekker allows indication of routes and alternative or reverse routes.  Trekker also allows selection of travel modes such as pedestrian, free and motorized.

Three dimensions associated with this orientation aid will be assessed: the advantages and pitfalls of the orientation aid identified by participants, participant?s frequency of use of the orientation aid, and the rate of participant?s satisfaction regarding the orientation aid.  In addition, we wish to assess independence in travel management and safety and efficiency in travel by individuals who use Trekker in different meteorological and environmental conditions.  Also, with this research, the Institut Nazareth et Louis-Braille wishes to have the aid placed on the list of vision aids obtainable through the Quebec Medicare plan.

Twelve persons ranging in age from 16 to 60 (six men and six women), from the Institut Nazareth et Louis-Braille and travelling independently with a white cane in familiar and unfamiliar areas were chosen randomly. First, a telephone survey was done with persons who already own a Trekker (n=4); comments and opinions were gathered allowing us to develop and structure our group discussion interview grids and a self-administered questionnaire.  Second, all participants were assessed by Orientation & Mobility specialists in their capacities to travel independently in familiar and unfamiliar areas (pre-utilization assessment without the Trekker and post-assessment with the Trekker). Third, subjects kept a log book to note their comments on using the Trekker for a period of two months. Fourth, two discussion groups were done after 1 week and at the end of the study. Lastly, all participants answered a self-administered questionnaire to measure their rate of satisfaction.

Data has been gathered from discussion groups and travel logs of participants and analysis is now being completed. Results will be available for the 2006 C-Sun conference. Ultimately, the questionnaire will be offered to the instructors of the Institut Nazareth et Louis-Braille in the context of its knowledge dissemination activities.  Trainees, students and O&M instructors will be offered a more realistic portrait of Trekker's utilization.  



1.Farcy, R., Damaschini, R., Legras, R., Leroux, R., Bellik, Y., Jacquet, C., Greene, J., Pardo, P.,
Agro, L., Murienne, J.-M., Zoghaghi, A. Perception de l?espace et locomotion des non-voyants par
profilom
ie laser ? Aides ctroniques ࠬa locomotion, n. d., 7 p.

2.Thibault, M.-J. Where am I ?: a review of products and projects relating to
technology in the field of orientation and mobility for the visually impaired, VisuAide, 2000, 33 p.


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