Developing an ICT based navigation assistance system for blind and visually impaired persons

Thesis event information

Date and time of the thesis defence

Place of the thesis defence

TA 105, Linnanmaa

Topic of the dissertation

Developing an ICT based navigation assistance system for blind and visually impaired persons

Doctoral candidate

Master of Science Babar Shahzad Chaudary

Faculty and unit

University of Oulu Graduate School, Faculty of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering, Oulu Advanced Research on Services and Information Systems (OASIS)

Subject of study

Information Processing Science


Professor Petri Vuorimaa, Aalto University


Docent Pasi Karppinen, University of Oulu

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Developing an ICT based navigation assistance system for blind and visually impaired persons

According to estimates by the World Health Organization (WHO), over one billion people worldwide suffer from some form of vision impairment. While being visually impaired (or blind) does not necessarily limit the ability to navigate from one location to another freely, research has revealed that accomplishing this safely and efficiently is one of the most significant barriers to the independence for blind and visually impaired people (BVIP).

This doctoral thesis focuses on developing constructs to help BVIP through infrastructure based assistance for independent navigation and through remote assistance in a collaborative assistance mode using a caretaker. The design science methodology was adopted to design, develop, and evaluate these constructs iteratively. Two constructs were developed for infrastructure-based navigation assistance, and one was developed for remote collaborative assistance. Each construct was evaluated for usability and user experiences with BVIP having differing degrees of visual impairment in Finland and Pakistan (with no other impediments). Further, empirical studies were conducted in Finland, Pakistan, and Sweden.

The results of the thesis demonstrate how remote collaboration systems can be developed to assist with navigation for BVIP and their caretakers. Those also demonstrate how existing infrastructure-based tactile paving blocks can be enhanced to provide orientation and mobility assistance interactively. The thesis also provides future research directions to extend the work presented. The work completed in this dissertation offers insight into the process of assistance technology design for BVIP using DSR. Haptic-based communication is the preferred way of communicating with BVIP, and this research explored how it could be used independently and human-controllably to guide BVIP when navigating.

There are more concepts in this field that were not explored, to focus on the plan for this research. Those concepts can be further developed by other DSR researchers working in this area or in a continuation of this work.
Last updated: 23.1.2024