Simulating visual impairment to detect hospital way-finding difficulties

Sonja Koneczny, Justin B. Rousek, M. Susan Hallbeck

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

1 Scopus citations


As people age, they not only face declining vision, but, due to physiology, increased health problems which necessitate way-finding through healthcare facilities. In this pilot study on way-finding in a hospital setting, 50 healthy, sighted participants donned one of five commonly encountered low-vision impairment simulators. Each tried to find their way along common hospital paths. Data on the obstacles the participants faced was gathered objectively via observation as well as subjectively by post-scenario questionnaires. The results of the study show that for low-vision people, decorative elements often create major disturbances in way-finding. Combined with other age related conditions, this may put patients at a high risk of tripping and falling. In addition, changes in lighting often are misleading and may cause corridors to appear crooked or doorways to appear larger/smaller than they are. The sizes of text on signs as well as the placement, illumination and size of the signs themselves may be unsatisfactory. Most of these problems can easily be detected by the use of low-vision simulation, then categorized and eliminated. Hospitals can improve their facility to reduce potential slips and falls as well as frustration using these data.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationMedicine Meets Virtual Reality 17 - NextMed
Subtitle of host publicationDesign for/the Well Being
PublisherIOS Press
Number of pages3
ISBN (Print)9781586039646
StatePublished - 2009
Event17th Annual MMVR Conference - NextMed: Design for/the Well Being, MMVR17 2009 - Long Beach, CA, United States
Duration: Jan 19 2009Jan 22 2009

Publication series

NameStudies in Health Technology and Informatics
ISSN (Print)0926-9630
ISSN (Electronic)1879-8365


Other17th Annual MMVR Conference - NextMed: Design for/the Well Being, MMVR17 2009
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityLong Beach, CA


  • Hospital
  • Vision simulation
  • Visual impairment
  • Way-finding

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Health Informatics
  • Health Information Management


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