Background: Pre-navigational tools can assist visually impaired people when navigating unfamiliar environments. Assistive technology products (eg tactile maps or auditory simulations) can stimulate cognitive mapping processes to provide navigational assistance in these people.
Objectives: We compared how well blind and visually impaired people could learn a map presented via a tablet computer auditory tactile map (ATM) in contrast to a conventional tactile map accompanied by a text description objectives.
Methods: Performance was assessed with a multiple choice test that quizzed participants on orientation and spatial awareness. Semi-structured interviews explored participant experiences and preferences.
Results: A statistically significant difference was found between the conditions with participants using the ATM performing much better than those who used a conventional tactile map and text description. Participants preferred the flexibility of learning of the ATM.
Conclusion: This computer-based ATM provided an effective, easy to use and cost-effective way of enabling blind and partially sighted people learn a cognitive map and enhance their wellbeing.
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