The production of maps accessible to people with visual impairments (PVIs) is nowadays a predominantly traditional practice, mastered by professionals in document adaptation, and essentially available for locomotion instructors.
Access to such representations for people with visual disabilities is an essential element, both for the understanding of the surrounding space, but also for mobility assistance. The generalization of the production of such maps is therefore an essential issue for the autonomy of these people. Access to these media should also be facilitated by increased interaction and sound information.
These needs are nowadays even more complex to satisfy as each user has specific needs in terms of representation (different tactile abilities, ability to represent space), and in terms of space to represent (maps at the scale of the district, plans and diagrams of complex intersections for the crossing, public transport network, etc.).
Scientific advances in geomatics (LASTIG) and geometry (LIMOS), combined with the availability of collaborative geographic data (OpenStreetMap type), new on-demand manufacturing techniques (3D printing) and interactive approaches (IRIT) offer original possibilities for designing such maps.
In this project, we will work closely with the various users of these maps: PVIs, orientation and mobility instructors, tactile document makers, special education teachers, and families.
We will work on collecting the different needs, focusing on two scales where the need is identified and well defined: the neighbourhood scale, and the crossroads scale.
We will then explore different ways of processing geographical data in order to produce representations adapted to these needs: production of maps by adapting the geomatic processing workflow (data selection and fusion, generalization, simplification and stylisation), production of abstract schemas and text descriptions, integration of geometric information from orthophotos. We will work to develop methods that integrate the adaptation to the diversity of disabilities and uses of these geographical representations.
These representations will be used when designing interactive devices adapted to the different uses and needs and capacities of the different users: fixed support for consultation and preliminary exploration, or mobile support for on-site consultation. In both cases, these devices will be interactive and audio, allowing the user to appropriate the available information. The automatic generation of this geographical information will make it possible to integrate data from geolocated databases or web services (information on the opening of public places, information on ongoing cultural events, for example) into the devices.
An open source software suite integrating the various research prototypes will be consolidated during the project in order to provide users with a simple way to manufacture the data needed to manufacture such maps.
While these explorations are in line with the scientific explorations of the three university partners, they are also in line with the activities of the industrial partner (FeelObject), which recently developed a peripheral device (Virtuoz) for PVIs, using 3D printing, and allowing interactive exploration of building plans. The application of this device for external use, the integration of the automatic processing explored during this project, and the adaptation of the initial product around interaction issues will consolidate the dissemination of the project's progress.
Monsieur Jean-Marie Favreau (Laboratoire d'Informatique, de Modélisation et d'Optimisation des Systèmes)
The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.
LIMOS Laboratoire d'Informatique, de Modélisation et d'Optimisation des Systèmes
LASTIG Laboratoire en sciences et techniques de l'information géographique
IRIT Institut de Recherche en Informatique de Toulouse
Help of the ANR 732,300 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: February 2020 - 48 Months