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.

 

Talking tactile maps and environmental audio beacons: An orientation and mobility development tool for visually impaired people

Jacobson, R.D. (1996) Talking tactile maps and environmental audio beacons: An orientation and mobility development tool for visually impaired people, Proceedings of the ICA Commission on maps and graphics for blind and visually impaired people, 21-25 October, 1996, Ljubjiana, Slovenia.

Abstract

Pedestrian navigation through the built environment is a fundamental human activity. Environmental scales may range from the micro, the room of a house, to the macro, a cityscape, for example. In order to navigate effectively through this range of environments visually impaired people need to develop orientation and mobility skills. Auditory beacons, accessed in a model as a talking tactile map and in the environment by beacons which transmit audio messages to a small receiver carried by the pedestrian, serve to integrate the model representation and the environment, and act as mobility and orientation development tool. This technical approach is assessed using a multi-task analysis of the cognitive maps of people using the system when learning a new route. Although analysis was not conclusive, those who used the system expressed great interest, suggesting that both maps and audio complimented and enhanced each other. This study demonstrates that access to audio beacons in environment and model leads to increased spatial comprehension and confidence about the route and shows the need for a mixture of quantitative and qualitative approaches when assessing cognitive mapping ability.

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Assessing the configurational knowledge of people with visual impairments or blindness

Jacobson, R.D. and Kitchin, R.M. (1995) Assessing the configurational knowledge of people with visual impairments or blindness, Swansea Geographer, 32, 14-24.

Abstract

One of the fundamental human needs is the need to know the world around us. and to be able to freely navigate within this environment. Visually impaired and blind individuals experience a different world from those that are sighted, and yet their spatial understanding of this world remains relatively unknown. Assessing their comprehension of the everyday geographic environment can be undertaken using a variety of data collection and analysis techniques. from the simple (e.g.sketch mapping) to the complex (e.g. multidimensional scaling). This paper examines the various methods designed to collect and analyse the configurational knowledge of sighted individuals and assesses their applicability to collecting the configurational knowledge of people with visual impairments or blindness. A small study, utilizing quantitative and qualitative techniques, is used to investigate the utility of various tests in assessing the contigurational knowledge of one blind person and two visually impaired people from Aberystwyth, Wales, UK.

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Navigation for the visually impaired: Going beyond tactile cartography

 Jacobson, R.D. (1994) Navigation for the visually impaired: Going beyond tactile cartography, Swansea Geographer, 31, 53-59.

Abstract

Wayfinding for the visually handicapped, is made more complex by the loss of their visual sense. In spite  of  this  they  can  hold  spatial  concepts  and  are  often  competent  navigators.  Tactile  maps,  those sensed by touch, have been shown to improve their spatial awareness and mobility. It is however the development of a personal guidance system  (PGS) relying on recently developed technologies that
may  herald  a  break  through  for  navigation  for  the  blind  and  visually  impaired.  It  would  enable  the visually handicapped to move more  freely  and  independently  through  their  environment.  It  would provide  on-line  interactions  with  representations  of  their  environment,  in  audio  or  tactile  form,
providing orientation, location and guidance information, enabling them to plan, monitor and execute navigation  decisions.

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Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Spatial cognition through tactile mapping

 Jacobson, R.D. (1992) Spatial cognition through tactile mapping. Swansea Geographer 29, 79-88.

Abstract
This paper describes an experiment to determine whether a tactile map of the University College of Swansea campus increases the spatial awareness of visually handicapped subjects.
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