Age & Ability Lab
Research Associate: Ross Atkin
Research Partner: RLSB (Royal London Society for Blind People)

Memory is an important navigational resource for people with sight loss who rely on having predictability in the urban environment. However, temporary obstructions and diversions such as streetworks can easily disrupt a person’s mental map and leave them disorientated. This project with the Royal London Society for Blind People, proposes an accessible new system of pedestrian signs and barriers containing both physical and digital elements.

Research included a survey of 100 streetworks sites across London, in situ research with people with visual impairments and shadowing of a streetworks installation crew. Initial design concepts were tested with visually impaired people and reviewed by Transport for London. In a second round of testing, 85 per cent of participants found the physical parts of the new system more useful than existing designs. These physical changes comprise a new pedestrian sign and retrofit tactile and graphic markings on the barriers. A digital application for smartphones allows operatives to log details of streetworks when they set up equipment. This can then provide audio descriptions of the works to passers by.

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