Laboratory studies of aided blind mobility
Thesis DisciplineElectrical Engineering
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
A review is given of theories of blind mobility, and of efforts to obtain objective data for evaluating sensory aids for the blind. Techniques are developed for making objective measurements of locomotor control performance - an important subset of mobility skills. It is shown that, using mobile subjects performing simple tasks in the controlled environment of a large laboratory, lined to suitable instrumentation, fine distinctions between different levels of performance can be made. A scale of locomotor control performance is developed. comparing a wide range of skill levels between normally sighted and "random" performance (with no auditory or visual feedback). Objective comparisons can be made between various mobility aids within this framework. Techniques are developed whereby mobility aids using auditory or tactile displays can be simulated in real time using mobile subjects - a long - standing research goal in blind mobility. The performance evaluation techniques can be applied to the simulated aids, allowing investigation of the effects on performance of adjustments in aid cue parameters. By viewing the mobile human as a control system performing well- defined tasks, objective data can be obtained to supplement the more subjective judgements made in the outside environment, and a deeper insight into the problems of blind mobility is made possible.