Do You See What I See? The shopping experiences of people with visual impairment

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Sandra Tullio-Pow
Hong Yu
Megan Strickfaden

Abstract

 


 This article reports on the shopping experiences of people with visual impairment (n = 7) and offers an alternative way to understand their needs. Our study adopted taskscape theory and multiple-method ethnographic perspectives to obtain viewpoints of shoppers with visual impairment and examined shopping activities through two lenses (wayfinding and signage) to determine criteria for improved design. We used taskscape theory to gain insights into how this population perceives signage as well as a participatory, human ecological, systems approach to identify the complexity of wayfinding among people with visual impairment. We used observation, notetaking, photography, and interviews to gain insights into personal and social factors affecting participants’ experiences when navigating in shopping malls. Our data-driven results include a characterization of seven activities—pre-shopping, traveling to the mall, mall navigation, in-store navigation, merchandise evaluation, checkout, and post-shopping—within the shopping taskscape of shoppers with visual impairments that help assess user needs regarding signage and wayfinding. The shopping taskscape provides a systems approach to advance ideas around designing complex environments for able-bodied people and those with disability. 

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