Simulating visual impairment to detect hospital wayfinding difficulties

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

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

4 Scopus citations


Many public facility layouts have been developed with little consideration for the visually impaired, producing difficult and unpleasant wayfinding experiences. This study analyzed the current issues in a wayfinding task for the visually impaired and makes recommendations towards wayfinding improvements within a healthcare setting. Normally-sighted participants (m=25, f=25) wore one of five different vision simulator goggles to replicate a specific vision condition (diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, cataracts, macular degeneration, and hemianopsia) and were then given directions how to get to specific series of departments within a hospital campus. Participants then navigated a second time without the simulated vision condition, with normal vision, so comparisons could be made. The results of this study show that for visually impaired people, decorative elements often create major disturbances in wayfinding. Combined with other age related conditions, this may put patients and visitors at high risk of accidental injuries. In addition, changes in lighting often are misleading and may cause doorways and hallways to appear larger/smaller than they are. The size, illumination and placement of signage also appear to be unsatisfactory. Most of these problems can easily be detected, categorized and eliminated by hospitals using these data.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication53rd Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting 2009, HFES 2009
PublisherHuman Factors an Ergonomics Society Inc.
Number of pages5
ISBN (Print)9781615676231
StatePublished - Jan 1 2009
Event53rd Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting 2009, HFES 2009 - San Antonio, TX, United States
Duration: Oct 19 2009Oct 23 2009

Publication series

NameProceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society
ISSN (Print)1071-1813


Other53rd Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting 2009, HFES 2009
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Antonio, TX

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics


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