Monday, 12 August 2013

Crowdsourcing techniques for augmenting traditional accessibility maps with transitory obstacle information


Jacobson, R.D., Caldwell, D.R., McDermott, S.D., Paez. F. I., Aburizaiza, A.O., Curtin K.M., Stefanidis A, and Qin, H. (2013) Crowdsourcing techniques for augmenting traditional accessibility maps with transitory obstacle information Cartography and Geographic Information Science  40 (3): 210-219. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/15230406.2013.799737

Abstract


One of the most scrutinized contemporary techniques for geospatial data collection and production is crowdsourcing. This inverts the traditional top-down geospatial data production and distribution methods by emphasizing on the participation of the end user or community. The technique has been shown to be particularly useful in the domain of accessibility mapping, where it can augment traditional mapping methods and systems by providing information about transitory obstacles in the built environment. This research paper presents details of techniques and applications of crowdsourcing and related methods for improving the presence of transitory obstacles in accessibility mapping systems. The obstacles are very difficult to incorporate with any other traditional mapping workflows, since they typically appear in an unplanned manner and disappear just as quickly. Nevertheless, these obstacles present a major impediment to navigating an unfamiliar environment. Fortunately, these obstacles can be reported, defined, and captured through a variety of crowdsourcing techniques, including gazetteer-based geoparsing and active social media harvesting, and then referenced in a crowdsourced mapping system. These techniques are presented, along with context from research in tactile cartography and geo-enabled accessibility systems.

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Friday, 31 May 2013

Health and Geospatial Information

Collaborators at the Faculty of Medicine are using GIS and geospatial techniques to investigate associations between variables in the geographic environment, such as access to green space, with characteristics of the health of a population.

Publications
 Potestio M.L., Patel A.B., Powell C.D., McNeil D.A. Jacobson R.D. and McLaren L. (2009) Is there an association between spatial access to parks/green space and childhood overweight/obesity in Calgary, Canada? International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 6:77 doi:10.1186/1479-5868-6-77

Community Responses to Tourism Development in the Canadian Arctic

Community Action GIS in the Arctic

Dr. Emma Stewart's project explores how to achieve tourism development in the Canadian Arctic that is both sustainable and acceptable to local communities, and how to engage citizens effectively in the public planning process. Given predictions that Arctic waters could be substantially free of ice by 2050, the research focuses on the effects of increased tourism and shipping activity on Arctic communities. Her research aims to explore community responses to cruise tourism using a modified Public Participation Geographic Information Systems approach.

map of canadiam artic showing study sites of Pond Inlet Cambridge Bay and Churchill
Study sites in the Canadian High Artic

Schematic overview of Participatory Geographic Information System (PGIS)
Overview of a Community Action GIS

Partners
Department of Geography, University of Calgary
Arctic Institute of North America
Trudeau Foundation

Publication
Stewart, E. Jacobson, R.D. and Draper D.  (2008) Public participation geographicinformation systems (PPGIS): challenges of implementation in Churchill,Manitoba. The Canadian Geographer / Le G´eographe canadien, 52(3), 351–366.

Press
CAG member profile The Canadian Association of Geographers Newsletter, Jan 2006 [PDF]

Multimodal speech interfaces to GIS

Multimodal speech interfaces to GIS

Ken Sam's project invloves leveraging existing commercial off the shelf (COTS) web-GIS component and open specification Speech Application Language Tags (SALT) as building blocks for creating a multimodal web-GIS application. In this paper, we will address how the different technology components were applied for creating a multimodal interfaces for the navigation, interaction and feedback for the web-based GIS application.

Screen caputure of Voice-enabled multimodal WebGIS application interface
Speech driven GIS interface
In most computing and information technology environment, data is presented in either text or graphic format as a means of conveying information to the end users. This has been the traditional paradigm of data display and visualization in the computing world. Efforts have been made in the software industry to design better navigation interfaces for software products and improve on the overall user-friendliness of the products. With geospatial data, additional dimensions are introduced in the presentation and display of the data. Because of the added complexity of geospatial data, there are a number of researches that are still on-going in trying to improve on the interface, visualization and interpretation of geospatial data. One can normally expect geospatial data to be viewed or interpreted by a normal-vision user without much challenge. Yet, visualization and navigation of map is a huge challenge for people who are visually impaired. The design and usability of GIS applications has traditionally been tailored to keyboard and mouse interaction in an office environment. To help with the visualization of geospatial data and navigation of a GIS application, this project presents the result of a prototype application that incorporates voice as another mode of interacting with a web-GIS application. While voice is not a replacement for the mouse and keyboard interface, it can act as an enhancement or augmentation to improve the accessibility and usability of an application. The multimodal approach of combining voice with other user interface for navigation and data presentation is beneficial to the interpretation and visualization of geospatial data and make GIS easier to use for all users.

Publications
Jacobson, R.D., and Sam, K. (2006) Multimodal Web-GIS: AugmentingMap Navigation and Spatial Data Visualization with Voice Control, AutoCarto 2006, June 26-28, Electronic Proceedings.

Multimodal zooming in digital geographic information

As a basic research issue, how well can people integrate and reconcile spatial information from various modalities, and how useful is such integration?

As an applied issue, what is the potential for haptic and auditory navigation within geographic information systems? Can visual information be augmented by the presentation of information via other modalities, namely, haptics and audition, and if so, to what extent?

The research will investigate a particular form of navigation within geographic information systems, namely, zooming. The research aims to investigate non-visual methods of representing or augmenting a visual zoom through the auditory and haptic senses, creating a multimodal zooming mechanism.

Transcending the Digital Divide

The purpose of this research is to develop, evaluate, and disseminate a non-visual interface for accessing digital information. The aim is to investigate the perceptual and cognitive problems that blind people face when trying to interpret information provided in a multimodal manner. The project also plans to provide touch sensitive and sound based network interface and navigation devices that incorporate cognitive wayfinding heuristics. Haptic (force feedback) interfaces will be provided for exploring web pages that consist of map, graphic, iconic or image products. Sound identifiers for on-screen windowed, map, and image information will also be provided. These tasks will contribute to transcending the Digital Divide that increasingly separates blind or vision impaired people from the growing information-based workplace. Recent research at UCSB has begun to explore how individuals identify features presented through sound and touch. Other research (e.g. O'Modhrrain and Gillespie, 1998; McKinley and Scott, 1998) have used haptics to explore screen objects such as windows, pulldown menus, buttons, and sliders; but map, graphic and other cartographic representations have not been explored. In particular, the potential of auditory maps of on-screen phenomena (e.g. as would be important in GIS applications) has barely been examined and few examples exist of combining audio and touch principles to build an interface. While imaginative efforts to build non-visual interfaces have been proceeding. there is a yet little empirical evidence that people without sight can use them effectively (i.e. develop a true representation of the experienced phenomena). Experiments will be undertaken to test the ability of vision impaired and sighted people from different age groups to use these new interface or features such as: (i) the haptic mouse or a touch window tied to auditory communication displays; (ii) digitized real sounds to indicate environmental features at their mapped locations; (iii) "sound painting" of maps, images, or charts to indicate gradients of phenomena like temperature, precipitation, pressure, population density and altitude. Tests will be developed to evaluate (i) the minimum resolvable area for the haptic interpretation of scenes; (ii) the development of skills for shape tracing in the sound or the force-feedback haptic domain, (iii) the possibility of using continuous or discreet sound symbols associated with touch sensitive pads to learn hierarchically nested screen information (e.g. locations of cities within regions within states within nations); (iv) to evaluate how dynamic activities such as scrolling, zooming, and searching can be conducted in the haptic or auditory domain, (v) to evaluate people's comprehension and ability to explore, comprehend, and make inferences about various non-visual interpretations of complex visual displays (e.g. maps and diagrams), and (vi) to explore the effectiveness of using a haptic mouse with a 2" square motion domain to search a 14" screen (i.e. scale effects).

Off-Route Strategies in Non-Visual Navigation

The project addresses the effects of learning method on route comprehension of visually impaired people, and it will determine if changes in geographic scale alter the effectiveness of selected learning media. An understanding of how different methods of learning affect route comprehension will allow current spatial knowledge acquisition theory and orientation and mobility training to be assessed and, if necessary, improved. Traversing space is one of the most cognitively demanding tasks faced by visually impaired people, and often invokes fear of being lost or disorientated. For these reasons there is a need to identify effective strategies of spatial learning that can contribute to the mobility and quality of life of visually impaired people. In the first experiment 24 visually impaired people will learn three short routes across a University campus (in counterbalanced order). Each route will be learned using a different learning method. The 24 subjects will be divided into 4 groups who will learn the route in a different order. The 3 conditions will be (1) pointing to places along the route, (2) making a map of the route, and (3) verbally describing the route. A further (control) group of ten visually impaired subjects will learn the route without any given strategy. Each trial will be video recorded. The three strategies selected are "off-route" strategies. Participants' route learning performance will be measured in several ways: the number of trials required to achieve successful route learning; number of errors made; types of errors; self-reported confidence measures; and assessment by independent judges of performance, hesitancy, and confidence. In the second experiment, 16 participants will learn a route 1.4 miles long through a complex urban environment. Participants will be divided into two conditions. In the first condition, they will learn the route using the most successful strategy from Experiment 1. In the second condition, they will learn the route using no given strategy. Sample sizes in both experiments are relatively small due to the difficulty of recruiting visually impaired participants, but the number of participants and number of trials will be greater than in previous experiments of way-finding and therefore should provide definitive results. By collecting data in a small-scale (university campus) and a large-scale environment (suburban neighborhood) we may find that spatial knowledge acquisition focuses on different cognition tasks at different scales. For the development of an effective orientation and mobility training program, these tasks may be operationalized via one or more simple geographic-based environmental learning procedures. The research addresses important theoretical questions relating to spatial learning and cognition, providing further insights into how visually impaired people construct, store, and utilize spatial knowledge. In so doing, it will address practical issues relating to the improvement of current orientation and mobility training.

PUBLICATIONS

Blades, M., Lippa, Y., Golledge, R.G., Jacobson, R.D., and Kitchin, R.M. (2002) Wayfinding by people with visual impairments: The effect of spatial tasks on the ability to learn a novel route. Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness 96, 407-419.
Link here

Jacobson, R.D., Lippa, Y., Golledge, R.G., Kitchin, R.M., and Blades, M. (2001) Rapid development of cognitive maps in people with visual impairments when exploring novel geographic spaces. IAPS Bulletin of People-Environment Studies (Special Issue on Environmental Cognition) 18, 3-6.
Link here

Golledge, R.G., Jacobson, R.D., Kitchin, R.M., and Blades, M. (2000). Cognitive maps, spatial abilities, and human wayfinding. Geographical Review of Japan, ser. B: The English journal of the Association of Japenese Geographers, 73 (Ser.B) (2), 93-104.
Link Here

PARTNERS

Department of Geography, University of California at Santa Barbarba, USA
Department of Psychology, University of California at Santa Barbarba, USA
Department of Geography, Florida State University, USA
Department of Psychology, University of Sheffield, UK
Department of Geography, National University of Maynooth, Ireland

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Book Publication: Mining and Natural Hazard Vulnerability in the Philippines: Digging to development or digging to disaster?



 

Back Cover Information
 _____________________
 "This text provides an exhaustive and engaging review of the literature surrounding issues of development in the Philippines. Holden and Jacobson leave no stone unturned as they uncover some of the most detrimental effects of modern mining practices on the surrounding natural environment and human communities."
- Professor Kathleen Nadeau, California State University, San Bernardino
 
____________________
"This book speaks well of mining disasters that are accelerated and amplified by natural hazards in the Philippines such as typhoons, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. I recommend this superb work to the general public and readers of specific interest on mining especially those with similar situations in their own countries."
Dr Emelina Regis, Director of the Institute for Environmental Conservation
and Research, Ateneo de Naga University

_______________

"Empirically grounded and theoretically informed, Holden and Jacobsen provide a compelling and powerful study of the hazards of neoliberalism and of environmental politics more broadly." — Dr James Tyner, Professor of Geography, Kent State University

________________

The archipelago of the Philippines is well endowed with nonferrous mineral resources, and in recent years the Filipino government, acting under the influence of the dominant and seemingly ubiquitous neoliberal development paradigm, has liberalized its mining laws in order to accelerate economic development. Yet the Philippines is also a country highly prone to a variety of natural hazards - including earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunamis, typhoons and El  Nino-induced droughts - that have the ability to interact adversely with mining's potential for environmental degradation. Thus, there are great dangers inherent in pursuing such a development paradigm: earthquakes can destabilize tailings storage facilities, typhoons can  flood tailings ponds, and mine-pit dewatering can enhance the competition for groundwater resources during droughts. This study explores how these hazards amplify the environmental harm prevalent in mining, and reveals the substantial threat they pose to the livelihoods of the archipelago's poor - who are dependent upon subsistence agriculture and subsistence aquaculture - as well as the inadequacies of the institutions designed to protect their environment.
 __________________


Supporting Accessibility for Blind and Vision-impaired People With a Localized Gazetteer and Open Source Geotechnology

Rice, M.T., Aburizaiza, A.O, Jacobson,R.D, Shore , B.M., and Paez. F I.  (2012). Supporting Accessibility for Blind and Vision-impaired People With a Localized Gazetteer and Open Source Geotechnology. Transactions in GIS 16 (2):177-190. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9671.2012.01318.x
Abstract
Disabled people, especially the blind and vision-impaired, are challenged by many transitory hazards in urban environments such as construction barricades, temporary fencing across walkways, and obstacles along curbs. These hazards present a problem for navigation, because they typically appear in an unplanned manner and are seldom included in databases used for accessibility mapping. Tactile maps are a traditional tool used by blind and vision-impaired people for navigation through urban environments, but such maps are not automatically updated with transitory hazards. As an alternative approach to static content on tactile maps, we use volunteered geographic information (VGI) and an Open Source system to provide
updates of local infrastructure. These VGI updates, contributed via voice, text message, and e-mail, use geographic descriptions containing place names to describe changes to the local environment. After they have been contributed and stored in a database, we georeference VGI updates with a detailed gazetteer of local place names including buildings, administrative offices, landmarks, roadways, and dormitories. We publish maps and alerts showing transitory hazards, including location-based alerts delivered to mobile devices. Our system is built with several technologies including PHP, JavaScript, AJAX, Google Maps API, PostgreSQL, an Open Source database, and PostGIS, the PostgreSQL’s spatial extension. This article provides insight into the integration of user-contributed geospatial information into a comprehensive system for use by the blind and vision-impaired, focusing on currently developed methods for geoparsing and georeferencing using a gazetteer.

Ecclesial Opposition to Nonferrous Metals Mining in Guatemala and the Philippines: Neoliberalism Encounters the Church of the Poor

Holden, W. N. and Jacobson, R.D. (2011) Ecclesial Opposition to Nonferrous Metals Mining in Guatemala and the Philippines: Neoliberalism Encounters the Church of the Poor. In Brunn S. (ed.) Engineering Earth, Volume 3 pp 383-411, Springer Netherlands.

Abstract

In recent years, as a result of the prevailing neoliberal development paradigm and the influence of the World Bank, many countries in the developing world have liberalized their mining laws to attract investment into their economies. In both Guatemala and the Philippines, governments have revised mining laws in an attempt to encourage more investment. This chapter discusses the opposition of the Roman Catholic Church to the neoliberal policies enacted by the governments of those countries to encourage the extraction of nonferrous metals by multinational corporations. The chapter begins with a discussion of the countries’ mineral
resources (and efforts of the respective governments to encourage mining), and then discusses the ecclesial opposition to mining in the two countries; the chapter concludes with a discussion of how neoliberalism is encountering the church of the poor. This research finds its home within the discipline of geography, as one of
human geography’s core areas is the relationship between people and their environment, and conflicts about mining are conflicts about different understandings of human-nature relationships.


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Exemplifying Accumulation By Dispossession: Mining And Indigenous Peoples In The Philippines.

Holden, W., Nadeau, K., and Jacobson, R.D.  (2011) Exemplifying Accumulation By Dispossession: Mining And Indigenous Peoples In The Philippines. Geografiska Annaler: Series B, Human Geography 93 (2), 141-161.

Abstract

 Using a case study from the Philippines, this article applies David Harvey’s theory of accumulation by dispossession to show how neoliberal policies enable mining corporations to locate, lay claim to, and develop mineral resources in formerly inccessible areas, which for centuries have provided safe haven for indigenous peoples and their cultures. It explains why these factors are leading to an increase in armed conflict between military forces and guerrilla groups, which recruit their members from displaced indigenous people. The article concludes that the theory of accumulation by dispossession offers an appropriate analytical tool for understanding these processes.

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Comparing Tactile Maps and Haptic Digital Representations of a Maritime Environment

Simonnet, M., Vieilledent, and Tisseau, J. (2011) Comparing Tactile Maps and Haptic Digital Representations of a Maritime Environment. Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness, 105 (4), 222-234.

Abstract

A map exploration and representation exercise was conducted with participants who were totally blind. Representations of maritime environments were presented either with a tactile map or with a digital haptic virtual map. We assessed the knowledge of spatial configurations using a triangulation technique. The results revealed that both types of map learning were equivalent.


Non-Visual Geographies

Jacobson, R.D. (2010) Non-Visual Geographies In: Warf, B. (ed.) Encyclopedia of Geography, Sage: London.

Abstract

The construction, interpretation, and meaning of non-visual landscapes explores the role of sensory and perceptual modes other than vision in the construction of geographic space. It positions itself at the boundary between social theory and behavioral geography by examining the ways in which non-visual modes of information acquisition and processing reflect geographic environments and in turn shape those same places by structuring the subjective understanding and behavior of people and their symbolic understanding of space.  This understanding and representation of geographic space, occurs from several diverse conceptual perspectives, including behavioral geography and post-structuralism. At the individual level we gather
information in an environment, from all our senses other than vision: including hearing, smell, taste, and touch including kinesthesia (muscle memory). Our spatial behaviour is informed by these other sense modalities facilitating an understanding of space and place.  



Tactile maps

Jacobson, R.D. (2010) Tactile maps, In: Goldstein, B. (ed) Encyclopedia of Perception, pp.950-952. Sage: London

Abstract

Extracting meaningful information from a tactile map, that is a map elevated in the third dimension, designed to be read by the sense of touch, is far more problematic than reading a conventional map with the use of vision.  Tactile maps are widely used in educational settings and in orientation and mobility training for vision impaired individuals. Maps and graphics are the most fundamental and primary mechanism for communicating spatial arrangements to blind people that is any representation of spatial features their arrangement and intra relationships.  Tactile graphics are used as diagrams in school text books, and portable maps when traveling. Just as Braille is often used as a substitute for the written word, tactile graphics are the equivalent for maps and diagrams. These are an essential tool for providing independence and education to people without vision.

The assessment of non visual maritime cognitive maps of a blind sailor: a case study

Simonnet, M., Vieilledent, S., Jacobson, D. and Tisseau, J. (2010) The assessment of non visual maritime cognitive maps of a blind sailor: a case study, Journal of Maps, v2010, 289-301. 10.4113/jom.2010.1087.

Abstract

Nowadays, thanks to the accessibility of GPS, sighted people widely use electronic charts to navigate through different kinds of environments. In the maritime domain, it has considerably improved the precision of course control. In this domain, blind sailors can not make a compass bearing, however they are able to interact with multimodal electronic charts. Indeed, we conceived SeaTouch, a haptic (tactile-kinesthetic) and auditory virtual environment that allows users to perform virtual maritime navigation without vision. In this study we attempt to assess if heading or northing “haptic” views during virtual navigation training influences non-visual spatial knowledge. After simulating a navigation session in each condition, a blind sailor truly navigated on the sea and estimated seamark bearings. We used the triangulation technique to compare the efficiency of northing and heading virtual training. The results are congruent with current knowledge about spatial frames of reference and suggest that getting lost in heading mode forces the blind sailor to coordinate his current “view” with a more global and stable representation.

Map - data Publication

Simonnet, M., Vieilledent, S., Jacobson, D. and Tisseau, J. (2010) Published Map. In Simonnet, M., Vieilledent, S., Jacobson, D. and Tisseau, J. (2010) The assessment of non visual maritime cognitive maps of a blind sailor: a case study, Journal of Maps, v2010, 289-301. 10.4113/jom.2010.1087.

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A Haptic and Auditory Maritime Environment for Non Visual Cognitive Mapping of Blind Sailors

M. Simonnet, R.D. Jacobson, S. Vieilledent and J. Tisseau. (2009) SeaTouch: A Haptic and Auditory Maritime Environment for Non Visual Cognitive Mapping of Blind Sailors. In K. Stewart Hornsby et al. (Eds.): COSIT 2009, LNCS 5756, pp. 212–226, 2009. Springer-Verlag Berlin, Heidelberg.

Abstract

Navigating consists of coordinating egocentric and allocentric spatial frames of reference. Virtual environments have afforded researchers in the spatial community with tools to investigate the learning of space. The issue of the transfer between virtual and real situations is not trivial. A central question is the role of frames of reference in mediating spatial knowledge transfer to external surroundings, as is the effect of different sensory modalities accessed in simulated and real worlds. This challenges the capacity of blind people to use virtual reality to explore a scene without graphics. The present experiment involves a haptic and auditory maritime virtual environment. In triangulation tasks, we measure systematic errors and preliminary results show an ability to learn configurational knowledge and to navigate through it without vision. Subjects appeared to take advantage of getting lost in an egocentric “haptic” view in the virtual environment to improve performances in the real environment.


Haptic or Touch-Based Knowledge

Jacobson R. D. (2009) Haptic or Touch-Based Knowledge. In Kitchin R, Thrift N (eds) International Encyclopedia of Human Geography, Volume 5, pp. 13–18. Oxford Elsevier

Abstract
  
Haptics is a term relating to touch, and active touch in its widest context, and how we are able to gain information about objects by manipulating them. Haptic perception involves the sensing of the movement and position of joints, limbs, and fingers, and also the sensing of information through the skin. The word ‘haptics’ is derived from the Greek term haptikos, from haptesthai, meaning ‘to grasp, touch, or perceive’, which is equivalent to hap(tein) to grasp, sense, or perceive.


Naturalistic Testing

Jacobson, R.D.  (2009) Naturalistic Testing, In: In: Kitchin, R., Thrift, N (eds.) International Encyclopedia of Human Geography, Volume 7, pp. 269-274. Oxford: Elsevier.

Abstract

Naturalistic inquiry or testing aims to leverage the benefits of conducting research in a natural setting in order to provide a rigorous contextual evaluation of the problem or phenomena under research scrutiny. It therefore is a predominantly qualitative research methodology. This is in contrast with controlled experiment inquiry in which the researcher manipulates the independent variables with some explicit control over other factors in order to observe the effects on the dependent variables.



Is there an association between spatial access to parks/green space and childhood overweight/obesity in Calgary, Canada?

Potestio M.L., Patel A.B., Powell C.D., McNeil D.A. Jacobson R.D. and McLaren L. (2009) Is there an association between spatial access to parks/green space and childhood overweight/obesity in Calgary, Canada? International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 6:77 doi:10.1186/1479-5868-6-77

Abstract

Background: The recent increase in childhood obesity is expected to add significantly to the prevalence of chronic diseases. We used multivariate multilevel analysis to examine associations between parks/green space and childhood overweight/obesity across communities in Calgary, Canada, a city characterized by intensified urban sprawl and high car use.
Methods: Body Mass Index was calculated from measured height and weight data obtained from  6,772 children (mean age = 4.95 years) attending public health clinics for pre-school vaccinations. Each child's home postal code was geocoded using ESRI ArcGIS 9.2. We examined four measures of spatial access to parks/green space (based onGeographic Information Systems): 1) the number of parks/green spaces per 10,000 residents, 2) the area of parks/green space as a proportion of the total area within a community, 3) average distance to a park/green space, and 4) the proportion of  parks/green space service area as a proportion ofthe total area within a community. Analyses were adjusted for dissemination area median family income (as a proxy for an individual child's family income) community-level education, and community-level proportion of visible minorities.
Results: In general, parks/green space at the community level was not associated with overweight/ obesity in Calgary, with the exception of a marginally significant effect whereby a moderate number of parks/green spaces per 10,000 residents was associated with lower odds of overweight/obesity. This effect was non-significant in adjusted analyses.
Conclusion: Our null findings may reflect the popularity of car travel in Calgary, Canada and suggest that the role built environment characteristics play in explaining health outcomes may differ depending on the type of urban environment being studied. 

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Can Virtual Reality Provide Digital Maps To Blind Sailors? A Case Study

Jacobson, R.D., Simonnet, M., Vieilledent, S. and Tisseau, J. (2009) Can Virtual Reality Provide Digital Maps To Blind Sailors? A Case Study. Proceedings of the International Cartographic Congress, 15-21 November 2009, Santiago, Chile. 10pp.

Abstract
This paper presents information about “SeaTouch” a virtual haptic and auditory interface to digital Maritime Charts to facilitate blind sailors to prepare for ocean voyages, and ultimately to navigate autonomously while at sea. It has been shown that blind people mainly encode space relative to their body. But mastering space consists of coordinating body and environmental reference points. Tactile maps are powerful tools to help them to encode spatial information. However only digital charts an be updated during an ocean voyageand they very often the only alternative is through conventional printed media. Virtual reality can present information using auditory and haptic interfaces. Previous work has shown that virtual navigation facilitates the ability to acquire spatial knowledge. The construction of spatial representations from physical contact of individuals with their environment, the use of Euclidean geometry seems to facilitate mental processing about space. However, navigation takes great advantage of matching ego- and allo-centered spatial frames of
reference to move and locate in surroundings. Blindness does not indicate a lack of comprehension of spatial concepts, but it leads people to encounter difficulties in perceiving and updating information about the environment. Without access to distant landmarks that are available to people with sight, blind people tend to encode spatial relations in an ego-centered spatial frame of reference. On the contrary, tactile maps and appropriate exploration strategies allow them to build holistic configural representations in an allo-centered spatial frame of reference. However,  position updating during navigation remains particularly complicated without vision. Virtual reality techniques can provide a virtual environment to manage and explore their surroundings. Haptic and auditory interfaces provide blind people with an immersive virtual navigation experience. In order to help blind sailors to coordinate ego- and allo-centered spatial frames of reference, we conceived SeaTouch. This haptic and auditory software is adapted so that blind sailors are able to
set up and simulate their itineraries before sailing navigation. In our first experimental condition, we compare spatial representations built by six blind sailors during the exploration of a tactile map and the virtual map of SeaTouch. Results show that these two conditions were equivalent. In our second experimental condition, we focused on the conditions which favour the transfer of spatial knowledge from a virtual to a real environment. In this respect, blind sailors performed a virtual navigation in‘Northing mode’, where the ship moves on the map, and in‘Heading mode’, where the map shifts around the sailboat. No significant difference appears. This reveals that the most important factor for the blind sailors to locate themselves in the real environment is the orientation of the maps during the initial encoding time. However, we noticed that the subjects who got lost in the virtual environment in northing condition slightly improved their performances in the real environment. The analysis of the exploratory movements on the map are congruent with a previous model of coordination of spatial frames of reference. Moreover, beyond the direct benefits of SeaTouch for the navigation of blind sailors, this study offers some new insight to facilitate understanding of non visual spatial cognition. More specifically the cognitively complex task of the coordination and integration of ego and allocentered spatial frames of reference. In summary the research aims at measuring if a blind sailor can learn a maritime environment with a virtual map as well as with a tactile map. The results tend to confirm this, and suggest pursuing investigations with non visual virtual navigation. Here we present the initial results with
one participant.

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Beyond Tactile Maps: Towards ontologies for future research

Jacobson, R.D. (2009) Beyond Tactile Maps: Towards ontologies for future research. Published Abstract Proceedings of the International Cartographic Congress, 15-21 November 2009, Santiago, Chile.
 Abstract
Tactile maps have traditionally been the representation media of choice for cartographers when attempting to convey spatial information to people with limited or no vision.  The production of tactile maps provide an exaggerated example of classic cartographic issues, such as, classification, abstraction, symbolization, generalization and standardization due to their production methods and their necessity to be read at a scale of
fingertip resolution.  Map reading problems are most acutely felt when a user has to extract contextual information, due to disrupted interpretation when linking legend information to other components of the cartographic display. 

The Roman Catholic Church: committed to the poor in Guatemala

Jacobson, R.D and Holden, W.N.  (2010) The Roman Catholic Church: committed to the poor in Guatemala. The Canadian Geographer / Le G´eographe canadien, 54 (3), 378-380. DOI: 10.1111/j.1541-0064.2009.00295_2.x
 Abstract
The coexistence of conservative and liberation perspectives within the Roman Catholic Church still causes disagreements. However, since Vatican II, the Catholic Church in Guatemala has established a commitment to act as a church of the poor. There is tension between Guatemala’s elite and the Church, which has led to the murders of Church members and the issuance of death threats to others. Although the growth of evangelical movements has caused the Church to lose influence, the Church remains committed to the poor, which places it in sharp contradistinction to neoliberalism.

Ecclesial Opposition to Nonferrous Mining in Guatemala

Holden, W.N. and Jacobson, R.D. (2009) Ecclesial Opposition to Nonferrous Mining in Guatemala” Neoliberalism Meets the Church of the Poor in a Shattered Society. The Canadian Geographer / Le G´eographe canadien, 53 (2), 145-164.

Abstract

Guatemala, a nation plagued by the legacy of its brutal 36-year civil war, has, in recent years liberalized its mining law to encourage the entry of multinational mining corporations. These mining companies have included two Canadian companies, which have developed the two most prominent, and controversial, mining projects in Guatemala. Using the lens of political ecology to demonstrate how environmental analysis and policy can be reframed towards addressing the problems of the socially vulnerable, this article analyses the opposition of the Roman Catholic Church to mining in Guatemala. The article reviews the development of liberation theology in Latin America and how this has imparted empathy for the poor into the pastoral praxis of the church.The church is opposed to mining largely because of the potential implications of mining’s environmental effects upon the livelihoods of the poor. The article postulates that the opposition of the church to mining is an example of an environmental issue connecting groups of people across class and ethnic lines to offset powerful global political and economic forces. The article concludes with a discussion of how this opposition to mining is a demonstration of the  opposition of the progressive church to neoliberalism in general.


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Public participation geographic information systems (PPGIS): challenges of implementation in Churchill, Manitoba

Stewart, E. Jacobson, R.D. and Draper D.  (2008) Public participation geographic information systems (PPGIS): challenges of implementation in Churchill, Manitoba. The Canadian Geographer / Le G´eographe canadien, 52(3), 351–366.

Abstract

Public participation geographic information systems (PPGIS) increasingly are utilized in geographic research, yet researchers rarely are provided with guidance on how to implement PPGIS in an appropriate and effective manner. This article reports on the process of research that explores responses to current and future local tourism development offered by a sample of residents using a modified PPGIS approach called ‘community action geographic information system’ (CAGIS). The conceptual development of CAGIS is reported and the challenges encountered during its implementation in Churchill, Manitoba during 2005–2007 are reviewed. It is suggested that researchers wishing to conduct similar research should undertake thorough preliminary fieldwork to assess the likelihood of finding agreement on a common problem; acquiring adequate resources; establishing collective responsibility for the project’s outcome; attaining stakeholder support; developing trust and meaningful relationships; and incorporating indigenous knowledge appropriately. Feedback of results to community members also should be an integral part of the research process. A number of feedback mechanisms are reported, including an interactive weblog, which helped facilitate communication between heterogeneous groups in Churchill. Although ambitions for a truly participatory GIS approach to this project have been set aside, it is held that PPGIS can yield positive outcomes for communities and academia. Sharing this research experience will be useful to others who venture into PPGIS research, especially in northern communities.

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Civil Society Opposition to Nonferrous Metals Mining in Guatemala

Holden, W.N. and Jacobson, R.D. (2008). “Civil Society Opposition to Nonferrous Metals Mining in Guatemala.” Voluntas: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations, 19 (4): 325-350. 

Abstract

Drawing on a range of fieldwork interviews, this paper discusses the opposition of civil society to nonferrous metals mining in Guatemala. Guatemala’s mineral resources, and government efforts to encourage their extraction, are discussed, as is the emergent civil society of that nation. Guatemalan civil society has opposed mining due to the impacts of its environmental effects upon the poor engaged in subsistence agriculture. This opposition has involved protests, community consultations against mining, and networking with the forces of global civil society. The paper concludes with a discussion of how this opposition to mining is a manifestation of the opposition to neoliberalism currently underway in Latin America. 


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The future of tactile cartography

Jacobson, R.D. (2007) The future of tactile cartography: from static raised lines to multimodal dynamic portable computer interfaces, International Cartographic Conference, Moscow 

Abstract

While still not considered a large component of mainstream cartographic research, the map-related research focusing on the blind and partially sighted map user population continues to grow.  Currently, several groups of researchers housed in universities in North America and internationally are conducting and pursuing research that focuses on identifying the needs, creating new innovative delivery methods, assessing strategies and spatial and geospatial performance, improving access, and developing potential educational resources for blind and partially sighted map users.  

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Monday, 20 May 2013

Press Comment: Scientific American

Scientific American, Getting in Touch: Virtual Maps for the Blind (2007)

Permanent Address: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=getting-in-touch-virtual

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Comments by Dan Jacobson

Mining Amid Armed Conflict: Nonferrous Metals Mining in the Philippines

Holden, W. N. and Jacobson, R.D. (2007) Mining Amid Armed Conflict: Nonferrous Metals Mining in the Philippines, The Canadian Geographer / Le G´eographe canadien, 51(4), 475-500.

Abstract

In recent years the government of the Philippines has attempted to accelerate the growth of the nation’s economy by encouraging the extraction of its mineral resources by multinational corporations. The Philippines is also a nation beset by armed violence carried out by anti-state groups. This article discusses how the presence, and activities, of these groups generate problems for a mining-based development paradigm. The article examines: the literature on the topic of natural resource abundance and conflict, how there have been attacks upon mines by armed groups, how mining companies have served as a target of extortion, how grievances related to mining can act as a source of conflict, how mining could disrupt the peace process with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and how mines are accompanied by a militarization of the area in their vicinity. Ultimately, violence is a manifestation of poverty and social exclusion inherent in Philippine society. Mining may not diminish, and indeed may increase, this poverty and social exclusion. Unless poverty and social exclusion is alleviated the violence will continue and alternative efforts to develop the Philippine economy will be precluded.

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Civil Society opposition to nonferrous metals mining in Montana

Holden, W. N., Jacobson, R.D, and Moran, K, (2007) Civil Society opposition to nonferrous metals mining in Montana, Voluntas: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations, 18(3) 266-292.

Abstract

This paper discusses the opposition of civil society to nonferrous metals mining in Montana. The mineral resources and mining history of Montana are discussed, as is the vibrant civil society of that state. Montana’s civil society has opposed mining due to its environmental effects, particularly upon areas of high conservation value. This opposition has involved litigation and the implementation of a ban on the use of cyanide by the mining industry. The paper concludes with a discussion of whether this opposition to mining has damaged the economy of the state and Montana’s future as an example of the ‘‘New West,’’ wherein amenities
based growth act as the principal agent of economic activity.


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Sunday, 19 May 2013

Implementing Auditory Icons in Raster GIS

MacVeigh, R. and Jacobson, R.D. (2007) Implementing Auditory Icons in Raster GIS, Proceedings of the 13th InternationalConference on Auditory Display, Montréal, Québec, Canada, 530-535.

Abstract

This paper describes a way to incorporate sound into a raster based classified image. Methods for determining the sound location, amplitude, type and how to create a layer to store the information are described. Hurdles are discussed and suggestions of how to overcome them are presented. As humans we rely on our senses to help us navigate the world. Sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell; they all help us perceive our environment. Although we sometimes take vision for granted, all our other senses play as important of a role in our daily lives. Even with all these senses at our disposal, the conventional GIS very
uncommonly do much more than convey their information visually. We demonstrate an auditory display with a sample implementation using a classified raster image, commonly used in a GIS analysis. This was achieved using a spatial sonification algorithm initially created in a Java environment. The ultimate aim of this work  is to develop an interactive mapping technology that fully incorporates auditory display, over a variety of platforms and applications. Such a tool would have the potential be of great benefit for displaying multivariate
information in complex information displays.

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Ecclesial Opposition to Nonferrous Metals Mining in the Philippines: Neoliberalism Encounters Liberation Theology

Holden, W. N. Jacobson, R.D (2007) Ecclesial Opposition to Nonferrous Metals Mining in the Philippines: Neoliberalism Encounters Liberation Theology. Asian Studies Review, 31(2), 133-154.

Abstract

This paper discusses the opposition of the Roman Catholic Church in the Philippines to the efforts of that nation’s government to attract foreign investment by mining corporations into the Philippines. The paper follows previous investigations, in examining the conflict between state-sponsored neoliberal economic policies and Christian liberation theology. Drawing on fieldwork interviews with members of the Church engaged in anti-mining advocacy, the paper employs a political ecology framework, to argue for seeing environmental conflict in a developing country as predominantly livelihood based.

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Ecclesial Opposition to Mining on Mindanao: Neoliberalism Encounters the Church of the Poor in the Land of Promise

Holden, W. N. Jacobson, R.D. (2007) , Worldviews: Environment, Culture, Religion, 11(2), 155-202.
Abstract
  
In the developing world, environmental issues are often livelihood issues as the poor try to protect resources necessary for their subsistence. Th  is paper examines the opposition of the Roman Catholic Church, on the Island of Mindanao, to neoliberal policies designed by the Philippine government to encourage nonferrous metals mining by multinational corporations. Mining is an activity with substantial potential for environmental degradation that can deprive the poor of their livelihood. Th  e Church, demonstrating the influence of liberation theology and its preferential option for the poor, has taken a stance opposing mining as an activity that may harm the poor by degrading the environment upon which they depend for their livelihood and further impoverish them. Th  e paper examines the Church’s efforts to provide alternative development programs for the poor and discusses the potential for more conflict between neoliberalism, and its “top down”
methods of implementing policies, and liberation theology with its “bottom up” perspective on achieving development.

Cartography

Jacobson, R. D. (2006) Cartography. In: Warf, B. (ed.) Encyclopedia of Human Geography. Sage: London. pp 28-29. Invited

Abstract

Cartography can be concisely and classically defined as “the art science and technology of making maps”. The popular associations of the word, with techniques of map making are a reflection of its lexical routes in cart (French for map) and graffiti (Greek for writing). More specifically cartography is a unique set of transformations for the creation and manipulation of visual or virtual representations of spatial information, most commonly maps, to facilitate the exploration, analysis, understanding and communication of
information about that space. Maps are a symbolized representation of a spatial reality designed for use when spatial relationships are of primary interest. 

Behavioral Geography

Jacobson, R. D. (2006) Behavioral Geography. In: Warf, B. (ed.) Encyclopedia of Human Geography. Sage: London. pp 17-18. Invited

Abstract
Behavioral geography investigates human action in geographic space as mediated through the cognitive processing of environmental information.  Its emphasis is upon spatial behavior and the psychology that lies beneath it at an individual level.  Behavioral geography deals with the environment defined by human behavior, with people central and integral to every problem. Its major focus has been upon the relations between a multi-dimensional environment and the multi-faceted process of human action, mediated through perception and cognition as active processes of learning about places, with the mind mediating between the environment and behavior in it. 


Saturday, 18 May 2013

Disability, geography of

Jacobson, R. D. (2006) Disability, geography of. In: Warf, B. (ed.) Encyclopedia of Human Geography. Sage: London. pp. 109-111. Invited

Abstract

 The term disability is contested; used in many different ways in different contexts, and increasingly narrowly defined in legal terms with recent legislation. In general disability is the study of people with mind and body differences, commonly referred to as physical and / or mental impairments, and the interactions between society and the capacity of disabled people to function as independent individuals.  Geography of disability explores disabled peoples’ experiences of space and place, investigating the relationships between the geographical environment, the nature of an individual’s impairment and the role of society as a mechanism for
including or marginalizing people with disabilities.

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Mental Maps

Jacobson, R. D. (2006) Mental Maps. In: Warf, B. (ed.) Encyclopedia of Human Geography. Sage: London. pp. 299-301. Invited

Abstract
A mental map is psychological or internal representation of places. The term arose during the psychological turn in human geography in the late 1960s as a key component of behavioral geography which concerned itself with addressing the role of  environmental perception as a mediating factor between a humans action and their environment. Mental maps were viewed as a tool, a key to unlocking the connection between someone's understanding of their environment and their spatial choices and behavior.  This was an
explicit attempt to explain human spatial activities by understanding them overlain upon a foundation of human behavioral processes. Mental maps are one of many terms  now known by  the umbrella term  of  cognitive  mapping. The  rationale for their study is straightforward:  our quality of life is greatly dependent on our ability to make informed spatial decisions through the processing and synthesis of spatial information, within a variety of situations, at differing  scales.  While attempting to navigate or explore an
environment we all have a spatial awareness of our surroundings, to varying extents. 

Mining Amid Decentralization: Local Governments and Mining in the Philippines

Holden, W. N. and Jacobson, R.D (2006) Mining Amid Decentralization: Local Governments and Mining in the Philippines. Natural Resources Forum, 30, 188-198.
Abstract
In recent years, as part of its neoliberal development paradigm, the Government of the Philippines has engaged in efforts to encourage extraction of the nation’s mineral resources. The Philippines is also a country where decentralization has devolved substantial powers to local governments. Concern over potentially adverse environmental effects has led to opposition to mining by some local governments in the Philippines. This opposition has led to the withholding of consent to mining projects by local governments and, in some cases, the implementation of moratoriums banning mining. Central to this opposition have been the activities of civil society groups, and their collaboration with local governments. This collaboration has involved the drafting of legislation prohibiting mining and support of candidates for office who are opposed to mining. Collectively, Filipino local governments and civil society groups are examples of the concept of governance, a dispersed process wherein society manages itself for the betterment of all its members. For mining companies seeking to implement projects, it is no longer suffcient to have the consent of the national Government — that of local governance forces must also be considered.

Multimodal Web-GIS: Augmenting Map Navigation and Spatial Data Visualization with Voice Control

Jacobson, R.D., and Sam, K. (2006) Multimodal Web-GIS: Augmenting Map Navigation and Spatial Data Visualization with Voice Control, AutoCarto 2006, June 26-28, Electronic Proceedings.

Abstract

This paper describes the design and architecture of a prototype project that was implemented to augment the navigation and visualization of geospatial data for a web-GIS application.  This project leverages existing commercial off the shelf (COTS) web-GIS component and open specification Speech Application Language Tags (SALT)  as building blocks for creating a multimodal web-GIS application.  In this paper, we will address how the different technology components were applied for creating a multimodal interfaces for the navigation, interaction and feedback for the web-based GIS application.  The design, integration process and the architecture of the prototype application are covered as a part of this project report.

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Multimodal Interfaces for Representing and Accessing Geospatial Information

Golledge, R.G., Rice, M., and Jacobson, R.D. (2006) Multimodal Interfaces for Representing and Accessing Geospatial Information. In: Rana, S. and Sharma, J. (eds.) Frontiers of Geographic Information Technology. Springer-Verlag: Berlin & New York, pp 181-208.

 Abstract

Multimodal interfaces have a great potential impact in our daily lives and in the education of students in all grades.  In particular, they offer significant benefits for people who are disabled.  The use of tactile, haptic, and auditory interfaces has a potential to make technology more universally accessible.  To this extent it will
mitigate the rapidly expanding digital divide between those who are able to use computers to access the Internet and web page information (i.e., those who  are computer literate) and those who are not.
Information technology transformations are affecting how we communicate, how we store and access information, how we become healthier and receive more medical care, how we learn at different stages of our development, how business is conducted, how work is undertaken in order to produce income, how things are built or designed, how data is stored and managed, and how research is conducted.  With the increasing emphasis on visualization as the main interface medium for computer based services, an ethical problem emerges regarding whether or not people who are visually impaired or who have other tactile, haptic, or auditory impairments should be increasingly disabled by the trend towards digital communication and information processing.  We believe that such groups should not be shut out from the advantages offered by the use of this technology, just as we believe that multimodal interfaces will enrich the understanding of the computer-based input and output of information that is becoming a part of our everyday lives. 

 
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Friday, 17 May 2013

A Commentary on the Use of Touch for Accessing On-Screen Spatial Representations: The Process of Experiencing Haptic Maps and Graphics

Golledge, R.G., Rice, M., and Jacobson, R.D. (2005) A Commentary on the Use of Touch for Accessing On-Screen Spatial Representations: The Process of Experiencing Haptic Maps and Graphics. The Professional Geographer, 57 (3). 339-349.

Abstract

The growth of the Internet and the digital revolution have meant increased reliance on electronic representations of information. Geospatial information has been readily adapted to the world of cyberspace, and most Web pages incorporate graphics, images, or maps to represent spatial and spatialized data. But flat computer screens do not facilitate a map or graph experience by those who are visually impaired. The traditional method for compensating for nonvisual access to maps and graphics has been to construct hard-copy tactile maps. In this article, we examine an electronic accommodation for nonvisual users—the haptic map. Using new and off-the-shelf hardware—force feedback and vibrotactile mice—we explore how touch can be combined with virtual representations of shapes and patterns to enable nonvisual access to onscreen map or graphic material.
Key Words: digital representation, haptic maps, visual impairment

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Haptic Soundscapes: Developing novel multi-sensory tools to promote access to geographic information

Jacobson, R.D. (2004) Haptic Soundscapes: Developing novel multi-sensory tools to promote access to geographic information. In: Janelle,D., Warf, B., and Hansen, K (eds.) WorldMinds: Geographical Perspectives on 100 problems. Kluwer: Dordrecht, pp 99-103.

Abstract

This essay explores the critical need for developing new tools to promote access to geographic information that have throughout history been conventionally represented by maps. This problem is especially acute for vision-impaired individuals. The need for new tools to access map-like information is driven by the changing nature of maps, from static paper-based products to digital representations that are interactive, dynamic, and
distributed across the Internet. This revolution in the content, display, and availability of geographic representations generates a significant problem and an opportunity. The problem is that for people without sight there is a wealth of information that is inaccessible due the visual nature of computer displays. At the same time the digital nature of geographic information provides an opportunity for making information accessible to non-visual users by presenting the information in different sensory modalities in computer interfaces, such as, speech, touch, sound, and haptics (computer generated devices that allow users to interact with and to feel information).

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Thursday, 16 May 2013

Representing Spatial Information Through Multimodal Interfaces: Overview and preliminary results in non-visual interfaces

Jacobson, R.D. (2002) Representing Spatial Information Through Multimodal Interfaces: Overview and preliminary results in non-visual interfaces.  6th International Conference on Information Visualization: Symposium on Spatial/Geographic Data Visualization, IEEE Proceedings, London, 10-12 July, 2002, 730-734.

Abstract

The research discussed here is a component of a larger study to explore the accessibility and usability of spatial data presented through multiple sensory modalities including haptic, auditory, and visual interfaces.  Geographical Information Systems (GIS) and other computer-based tools for spatial display predominantly use vision to communicate information to the user, as sight is the spatial sense par excellence. Ongoing research is exploring the fundamental concepts and techniques necessary to navigate through multimodal interfaces, which are user, task, domain, and interface specific. This highlights the necessity for both a conceptual / theoretical schema, and the need for extensive usability studies.  Preliminary results presented here exploring feature recognition, and shape tracing in non-visual environments indicate multimodal interfaces have a great deal of potential for facilitating access to spatial data for blind and visually impaired persons. The research is undertaken with the wider goals of increasing information accessibility and promoting “universal access”.  

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Wayfinding by people with visual impairments: The effect of spatial tasks on the ability to learn a novel route

Blades, M., Lippa, Y., Golledge, R.G., Jacobson, R.D., and Kitchin, R.M. (2002) Wayfinding by people with visual impairments: The effect of spatial tasks on the ability to learn a novel route. Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness, 96, 407-419.

Abstract

Thirty-eight people with visual impairments learned a 483-meter novel route through a University campus which included 28 choice point (e.g. left or right turns). After a single guided experience of the route participants were divided into four groups and walked the route three times under different conditions. In the verbalization condition participants gave a verbal description of the route from memory after each route experience. In the modeling condition participants made a model of the route from memory after each route
experience. In the pointing condition participants made pointing estimates between places on the route as they walked along it. In the control condition participants walked the route without any additional testing. Performance was measured in terms of accurate decisions at choice points. All four groups showed an improvement in performance with greater experience of the route. The modeling group showed the greatest improvement compared to the control group. The methodological implications of these results are considered, and the implications for mobility training are discussed.  

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Multimodal virtual reality for presenting geographic information

Jacobson, R.D., Kitchin, R.M., and Golledge R.G. (2002) Multimodal virtual reality for presenting geographic information.  In: Fisher, P. and Unwin, D. (eds.) Virtual Reality in Geography. Taylor and Francis: London, pp. 382-400.

Abstract

Since the conception of virtual reality (VR) environments, interaction has been predominantly visual and haptic in nature.  Only recently have developers and scientists explored non-visual and multimodal VR environments.  In this paper we examine these recent developments and assess their viability as geographic tools for people with severe visual impairments.  Our own research and  the work of others suggests that multimodal VR, where visual interaction is either augmented by, or substituted for, other forms of data such as sound and touch, offers people with severe visual impairments access to geographic information that is in many cases otherwise inaccessible.  Such offerings open up opportunities to explore the spatial relations of geographic representations and real world environments, and could qualitatively improve their quality of life.

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Exploratory user study of haptic and auditory display for multimodal information systems

Jeong, W. and Jacobson, R.D. (2002) Exploratory user study of haptic and auditory display for multimodal information systems. In: McLaughlin, M. L., Hespanha, J.P., and Sukhatme, G.S. (eds.) Touch in virtual Environments: Haptics and the design of interactive systems. IMSC Series in Multimedia, Prentice Hall: New York, pp. 194-204.

 Abstract

Since the inception of virtual reality (VR) environments, interaction has been predominantly visual, especially in conveying spatial information. However, in many situations vision is not enough or is not available. For example, for the visually impaired over-reliance on visual display denies them access to the information. Even for the general population, if there is no light or weak light, a visual display is not optimal for conveying information. Recently a number of researchers have tried to add other modalities, such as sound or haptics, to overcome the imitations of visual display.

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Rapid development of cognitive maps in people with visual impairments when exploring novel geographic spaces

Jacobson, R.D., Lippa, Y., Golledge, R.G., Kitchin, R.M., and Blades, M. (2001) Rapid development of cognitive maps in people with visual impairments when exploring novel geographic spaces. IAPS Bulletin of People-Environment Studies (Special Issue on Environmental Cognition), 18, 3-6.

Abstract

'Cognitive' map is a term that refers to a person's environmental knowledge. Anyone experiencing a new environment will, over time, develop a cognitive representation of that environment, including information derived from that environment (e.g., about places, routes and spatial relationships) and information about personal experiences (e.g. memories about events at locations and attitudes towards places). There is now a great deal of research into the cognitive maps of sighted people (see Golledge, 1999;  Kitchin
& Freundschuh, 2000;  Kitchin & Blades, in press), but there is comparatively little research into the cognitive maps of people with visual impairments.

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Cognitive maps, spatial abilities, and human wayfinding

Golledge, R.G., Jacobson, R.D., Kitchin, R.M., and Blades, M. (2000) Cognitive maps, spatial abilities, and human wayfinding. Geographical Review of Japan, ser. B: The English journal of the Association of Japanese Geographers, 73 (Ser.B) (2), 93-104.

Abstract

In a series of experiments in Belfast (Northern Ireland) and Santa Barbara (California) we used 10 sighted, 10 visually impaired, and 10 blind individuals matched for age, socio-economic status, and educational background to examine wayfinding. The participants were first required to take the experimenter over a familiar route to observe the types of behavior they exhibited. This established a performance base and provided a training exercise as participants undertook the set of tasks to be performed in the unfamiliar environment. Table 2 shows the aggregate results from participants' familiar environments.  They were then required to learn a new route in completely unfamiliar environments.  To do this the participants were given 4 trials - the first was an experimenter-guided trial and the next 3 were learning and evaluation trials.

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Cognitive mapping without sight: Four preliminary studies of spatial learning

Jacobson, R.D. (1998) Cognitive mapping without sight: Four preliminary studies of spatial learning. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 18, 289-305.

Abstract

This paper illustrates the application of cognitive mapping to people with visual impairments and blindness. It gives perspectives on past research, outlines ongoing  research, highlights some of the methodological and validity issues arising from this research, and discusses the movement of theory into practice. The findings of three small preliminary studies have been reported, as part of continuing research into the cognitive mapping abilities of blind or visually impaired people. These studies have highlighted the need to use multiple, mutually supportive tests to assess cognitive map knowledge. In light of these findings and the need to move theory into practice, a current research project is outlined. This project seeks to use the knowledge gained from the three projects to design and implement an auditory hyper map system to aid wayfinding and the spatial learning of an area. Finally an agenda for applied research is presented.

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Belfast without sight: Exploring geographies of blindness

Kitchin, R.M., Jacobson, R.D., Golledge, R.G., and Blades, M. (1998) Belfast without sight: Exploring geographies of blindness. Irish Geographer. 31(1), 34-46.

Abstract

In this paper the transformed spaces of visually impaired and blind people is explored through a detailed analysis of interview transcripts with twenty seven visually impaired people living in or around Belfast.  Data were collected using a structured open-ended interview and were analysed within NUD-IST, a qualitative data analysis package. Analysis revealed that visually impaired people become spatially confused (e.g. lost or disorientated) for two primary reasons.  ‘Self-produced’ confusion is spatial confusion caused by the misperception / miscognition of a route (e.g. miscounting intersections). ‘Situational’ confusion is spatial confusion caused by a permanent or temporary localised occurrences such as road works, vehicles parked on pavements, and street furniture.  Both types of spatial confusion were found to induce feelings of fear and anxiety, leading to a loss of self-confidence, embarrassment and frustration, which in turn led to less independent travel and exploration, and constrained patterns of spatial behaviour.  Respondents detailed a number of strategies for coping with spatial confusion.  In addition, they assessed methods to make Belfast more navigable including environmental modifications and orientation and mobility aids.

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Navigating maps with little or no sight: A novel audio-tactile approach

Jacobson, R.D. (1998) Navigating maps with little or no sight: A novel audio-tactile approach. Proceedings of Content Visualization and Intermedia Representations. August 15, University of Montreal, Montreal.
Abstract 

This paper first presents a review of the options available for conveying maps and graphics to visually impaired and blind people. A novel audio-tactile methodology is described, and the results from its pilot study reported. Communication of spatial media, such as map, is problematic without sight. Tactile perception is serial rather
than synoptic. By building a working model of the environment that is uses both tactile and auditory feedback, a map is made far more accessible. Results from the pilot study demonstrated simplicity and enjoyment of use of this novel approach which integrates speech, verbal landmarks, earcons and recorded environmental sound
to build a small spatial hypermedia system.

GIS and people with visual impairments or blindness: Exploring the potential for education, orientation, and navigation

Jacobson, R.D. and Kitchin, R.M (1997) GIS and people with visual impairments or blindness: Exploring the potential for education, orientation, and navigation. Transactions in Geographic Information System, 2(4), 315-332.

Abstract

 GIS, with their predominantly visual communication of spatial information, may appear to have little to offer people with visual impairments or blindness. However, because GIS store and manage the spatial relations between objects, alternative, nonvisual ways to communicate this information can be utilized. As such, modified GIS could provide people with visual impairments access to detailed spatial information that would aid spatial learning, orientation, and spatial choice and decision making. In this paper, we explore the ways that GIS have been, and might be, adapted for use by people with visual impairments or blindness. We review current developments, report upon a small experimental study that compares the ability of GIS-based and various adaptive technologies to communicate spatial information using non-visual media, and provide an agenda for future research. We argue that adapted GIS hold much promise for implicitly improving the quality of life for visually impaired people by increasing mobility and independence.

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Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Techniques to collect and analyze the cognitive map knowledge of people with visual impairments or blindness: Issues of validity

Kitchin, R.M. and Jacobson, R.D. (1997) Techniques to collect and analyze the cognitive map knowledge of people with visual impairments or blindness: Issues of validity. Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness. July-August, 360-376.
Abstract
This article is an assessment of a variety of techniques used by researchers in the fields of geography, psychology, urban planning, and cognitive science to collect and analyze data on how people with visual impairment or blindness learn, understand, and think about geographic space. The authors concluded that these techniques and their results need to be used cautiously. They also made recommendations for increasing the validity of future studies, including the use of multiple, mutually supportive tests; larger sample sizes, and movement from the laboratory to  realworld environments.