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Disability, Mobility, Transportation, Equity, Travel


This report documents the development of a prototype Vulnerable Road User Mobility Assistance Platform (VRU-MAP), a novel effort to conceptualize and develop a navigation solution directed toward the needs of people with disabilities (PWD). PWD represent about 15% of the world’s population and disproportionately face barriers to transportation, which represents a critical component to daily life, relative to people without disabilities. One barrier to transportation is the lack of dedicated walking navigation solutions; while smartphones and other GPS implementations have made walking directions from location to location nearly universally obtainable, these generally do not provide routing that takes into account an individual user’s capabilities and needs. This VRU-MAP application, which is currently implemented in a functional prototype, uses novel coding based on combining existing open-source maps (OpenStreetMap), publicly available environmental information (e.g., weather, elevation, etc.) and crowd-sourced hazard information with a user’s self-reported personal capabilities and needs. This combination of persistent and real-time information allows for the generation of personalized navigation directions, which are then presented in a turn-by-turn manner to users. Real-world testing demonstrated substantial promise in the functional prototype, while at the same time illustrating areas for future improvement and refinement including expanding capabilities, improving interface design, and improving routing component integration. Next steps include identifying additional partners to develop the prototype into a deployable application, including partnering with disability experts to ensure that final design and implementation are both useful and acceptable to the broadest possible range of users, including integrating with and being accessible by current assistive technologies such as screen readers.