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Assist Technol. 2012 Summer;24(2):110-20; quiz 121-2.

User evaluation of two electronic mobility aids for persons who are visually impaired: a quasi-experimental study using a standardized mobility course.

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  • 1Research Centre Technology in Care, Zuyd University, Heerlen, the Netherlands. uta.roentgen@zuyd.nl


This study was conducted to enhance insight into the functionality, usability, and efficacy of two systematically selected Electronic Mobility Aids (EMA) aimed at obstacle detection and orientation. Eight persons who are visually impaired participated in a user evaluation of the UltraCane and the Miniguide. The participants' mobility performance was observed while completing a standardized indoor mobility course with their regular mobility aid, then with each EMA, and assessed in terms of speed, Percentage Preferred Walking Speed (PPWS), type and number of mobility incidents made. Interviews were administered to ascertain users' satisfaction with the functionality, effectiveness and specific features of the assistive devices. Walking speed and PPWS declined when using an EMA compared to the long cane. The mean total number of previously defined mobility incidents decreased significantly and also the type of mobility incidents changed. Generally, participants were quite satisfied with the use of the EMA, and detailed advantageous as well as disadvantageous aspects concerning functionality and certain features of both devices. The UltraCane and the Miniguide have proven to be effective on an indoor mobility course. Individual users' characteristics and preferences appear to be critical for their appraisal of the devices.

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