The Design of Assistive Location-based Technologies for People with Ambulatory Disabilities: A Formative Study


Kotaro Hara, Christine Chan, Jon E. Froehlich


In this paper, we investigate how people with mobility impairments assess and evaluate accessibility in the built environment and the role of current and emerging locationbased technologies therein. We conducted a three-part formative study with 20 mobility impaired participants: a semi-structured interview (Part 1), a participatory design activity (Part 2), and a design probe activity (Part 3). Part 2 and 3 actively engaged our participants in exploring and designing the future of what we call assistive locationbased technologies (ALTs)—location-based technologies that specifically incorporate accessibility features to support navigating, searching, and exploring the physical world. Our Part 1 findings highlight how existing mapping tools provide accessibility benefits—even though often not explicitly designed for such uses. Findings in Part 2 and 3 help identify and uncover useful features of future ALTs. In particular, we synthesize 10 key features and 6 key data qualities. We conclude with ALT design recommendations.