Learning A Complex Urban Route Without Sight: Comparing Naturalistic versus Laboratory Measures


Jacobson, Dan and Kitchin, Rob and Gärling, Tommy and Golledge, Reginald G. and Blades, Mark (1998) Learning A Complex Urban Route Without Sight: Comparing Naturalistic versus Laboratory Measures. In: Proceedings of Mind III: Spatial Cognition, August 17-19 1998, Dublin.

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Abstract

In this paper we report some of the results from a study of how people with severe visual impairments learn a complex route through an urban environment. Ten totally blind, ten partially sighted and ten sighted people learned a route 1600 meters long through a suburb of Belfast over four trials. On the first trial respondents were guided around the route. On the second, third and fourth trials respondents led the way around the route, pointing to the start, end, and three locations enroute from these locations. On completion of each trial respondents built a model of the route using magnetic pieces. Analyses of these tasks found no significance differences in pointing or model building between groups. Visually impaired and blind people did however make more errors when retracing the route although by the fourth trial the majority could retrace without error. The results, in combination, reveal that people with severe visual impairments can learn complex routes through a geographic environment both quickly and efficiently. The combined use of laboratory and naturalistic tasks indicated that levels of spatial knowledge do not necessarily predict the ability to use those knowledges effectively in everyday spatial behaviour. As such, the navigation problems facing visually impaired and blind people lie in learning new environments independently and in articulating their knowledges in wayfinding practice. These results led to the adoption of the difference theory of spatial cognition. This suggests that the cognitive map knowledge of adventitiously blind individuals are different from the sighted rather than underdeveloped or used inefficiently.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Additional Information: This research is the first phase of a larger project funded by NSF grant 'Understanding geographic space without the use of vision', (SBR9514907) The authors with to express their gratitude to all the participants who took park in the study.
Keywords: visual impairments; Learning; Route; Urban environment; Naturalistic; Laboratory Measures; spatial knowledge; trials; Ireland;
Academic Unit: Faculty of Social Sciences > Geography
Faculty of Social Sciences > Research Institutes > National Institute for Regional and Spatial analysis, NIRSA
Item ID: 7244
Depositing User: Prof. Rob Kitchin
Date Deposited: 15 Aug 2016 12:06
Refereed: Yes
URI:

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