Currently, personal navigational systems are largely reserved for outdoor travel using GPS technologies on smartphone applications. While smartphones are approaching ubiquity, navigational systems have lacked consideration for individuals with limited mobility due to disability. The purpose of this study was to investigate the needs of users with limited mobility for navigation and wayfinding and to gather their insight into the necessary functionalities of an indoor-outdoor navigation app. This qualitative study intends to answer two main investigative questions; how people with limited mobility are currently navigating, and how can this be improved with a smartphone indoor/outdoor navigation app.
Ten people (55.5 ± 14.2yrs, 3 male, 7 female) provided informed consent to participate in an individual semi-structured interview. The average onset of their limited mobility was 37.2 ± 21.4yrs, with two participants having more recent onsets of 2 and 5 years. The interviews were conducted in-person or virtually and were then transcribed and analyzed via thematic analysis. Interviews identified common themes including needs for modality customization, awareness of pavement conditions, accessible restroom locations, emergency aid, and crowdsourcing between users.
This work investigated the needs of individuals with a range of mobility limitations as they navigate through their daily lives and described some of the requirements of these individuals to use an indoor-outdoor navigational system. Due to the differing levels of limited mobility, participants had diverse needs for the application, including modality customization for driving and traversing in public streets, to larger button inputs for people with limited manual dexterity. These ideas informed portions of the design of CityGuide, an indoor navigational system centered around the needs of people with varying disabilities, including people with limited mobility.