The aim of this study is to empirically investigate the case of visually impaired persons and the possible effects of a tailored pedestrian navigation system on their mobility. Interview results indicate that with the provision of detailed information about the built environment and public transportation, positive potential effects include an increased ability to travel alone, to travel in unplanned and unfamiliar situations, and to prioritize public transportation use over the use of special transportation services. In the broader sense, the system may also serve an integrity enhancing function by improving the possibility of leading an independent and autonomous life. On the other hand, as with all ICT with positioning and monitoring capabilities, its use also poses ethical challenges and may negatively impact privacy. Privacy perceptions are highly contextual, but the participants’ responses in this context do not indicate high levels of concern for data misuse or being tracked through their data. This does not, however, translate into an absence of concern over technology’s potential negative impacts on personal integrity. As the participants’ comments illustrate, ICT development does not necessarily result in ethically sound, universally accessible technology. While the participants are generally optimistic about the possibilities of using ICT to enhance their mobility, they also emphasize that ICT is not the magic bullet. As such, this study serves to remind us that a coordinated effort on multiple fronts is vital in addressing users’ needs and meeting broader social goals such as social inclusion and the accessibility of transportation, technology, and information.
Washington, D.C., 2013.