RESEARCH SUPPORT, NON-U.S. GOV'T
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Mobility performance of low-vision adults using an electronic mobility aid.

Visually impaired people rank obstacle location and identification as two of the most important mobility problems faced. Traditional mobility aids (the long cane) provide information about where an object is located but only within their limited (one metre) range. Although objects are located when traditional aids are used, it is unlikely that they are identified. The Bristol Mobility Aid (BMA) is an electronic travel aid that presents scene images to remaining residual vision in a number of view formats. Previous work has suggested visually impaired observers have better static object recognition using this aid. We investigated the mobility performance of subjects with retinitis pigmentosa using the BMA by determining the percentage preferred walking speed (PPWS), and the number of errors made with three different BMA headset views on an indoor mobility course. We found low-vision subjects had significantly reduced PPWS in two of the three headset views and interestingly, sighted subjects had significantly reduced PPWS when using the BMA in all three views. The numbers of errors made were significantly higher across all vision groups when the BMA was worn. We found that the BMA does not currently increase mobility in the visually impaired. Results are discussed in terms of modifications that could be made to the aid and methodological limitations.

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