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Passenger Vehicle Preferences, Challenges, and Opportunities for Users Who Are Visually Impaired: An Exploratory Study

British Journal of Visual Impairment, 2022, DOI: 10.1177/02646196221135726

Abstract: Individuals with visual impairments encounter many obstacles with passenger vehicles. This study aimed to increase the understanding of challenges specifically related to vehicles including ingress, in-vehicle considerations, comfort, and acceptance of ridesharing and transportation options for individuals who are visually impaired. Ten participants who are visually impaired, with an average age of 57.5 years, completed a semi-structured interview. The interview took place over Zoom or over the phone and focused on their passenger vehicle preferences and challenges, as well as what they would want for them to look like in the future. All of the participants typically requested rides from family and friends for local transportation, while only two used rideshare services. Half of the participants described the most common challenge when getting into a vehicle as hitting one’s head. All of the participants used their sense of touch to locate the seat belt, and most used touch and hearing to locate the vehicle and door they were getting into. When asked what they would like in the future for broader transportation needs, examples ranged from a talking cane, to an electronic guide dog, or to ear buds that could provide directions. Throughout the interviews, participants expressed the importance of transportation for them. This study increased the understanding of the challenges used when walking from an indoor environment to get to and into a vehicle. Understanding how individuals who are visually impaired currently get to and into a vehicle may aid engineers, new technology developers and O&M providers to create more processes and/or training that can help increase transportation options for those who are visually impaired.