Vision-impaired individuals often use a long white cane to assist them with gathering information about their surroundings. However, these aids are generally not used to detect obstacles above knee height. The purpose of this study is to determine whether a low-cost, custom-built electronic device clipped onto a traditional cane can provide adequate vibratory warning to the user of obstacles above knee height. Sixteen normally sighted blindfolded individuals participated in two mobility courses which they navigated using a normal white cane and a white cane with the electronic device attached. Of the 16 participants, 10 hit fewer obstacles, and 12 covered less ground with the cane when the electronic device was attached. Ten participants found navigating with the electronic device easier than just the white cane alone. However, the time taken on the mobility courses, the number of collisions with obstacles, and the area covered by participants using the electronic device were not significantly different (p > 0.05). A larger sample size is required to determine if the trends found have real significance. It is anticipated that additional information provided by this electronic device about the surroundings would allow users to move more confidently within their environment.
- assistive technology
- blind navigation
- electronic aids to daily living