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Narrative Mapping O&M Workshop

Instructors mapping a Metro station

Columbia Lighthouse for the Blind alongside ClickAndGo Wayfinding,  WMATA, and the MD/DC Chapter of AER held a narrative mapping workshop on November 5, 2014 to promote use and understanding of the new ClickAndGo DC Metro navigation system for users who are blind or visually impaired to use the DC Metro system.

About 30 orientation and mobility instructors were in attendance from various counties, centers for the blind, and schools to learn about ClickAndGo DC Metro and narrative maps. With such a new technology, it is vital to spread the awareness and usability of this new system and get feedback from instructors who will advise their clients to use the system.

ClickAndGo DC Metro is a narrative mapping technology that delivers searchable, customized wayfinding information to pedestrians who are blind or visually impaired. It is designed to create a community narrative for the benefit of all as opposed to the traditional individualized route creation. Included are step by step detailed instructions from Metro platforms to points of interest that can be accessed and downloaded online, via phone, or through a smartphone app, virtual text tours of stations, low vision maps, and iBeacons which are coming soon. It is the leading pre-journey learning experience so people can prepare at home.

This project is created because people with orientation and mobility training should not need an orientation and mobility instructor to help them travel somewhere new just because they do not have the accessible data available.

During the workshop the attendees were taught the basics of the program that can be accessed with a screenreader, any type of telephone, mp3, large print, refreshable Braille or the app.

After the basics were laid out, participants were grouped and sent out to map a specific nearby route to or from the Metro Center station. When they were complete, routes were uploaded into the ClickAndGo database where they immediately went live!

This experience of describing routes was a wonderful learning experience for the orientation and mobility instructors. They had to consider many variables from wording to landmarks and temporary issues such as escalators that change directions, how to tell which car to be on, how many people learn on walls while waiting for trains, and how construction can be avoided.

When everyone got back and enjoyed lunch, group discussions were held on the example routes that were created and the pros and cons for certain steps and issues that others came up with after reading it. A lot was learned about how many assumptions are made by the sighted.

There was then an afternoon session to gather feedback from the attendees how the program should be standardized when expanding the program. Should local terms be used, how much description of the surrounding environment should be included, how much to include in a step, and what terminology to use (trailing, following, shorelining), and others were also discussed.

To try the program visit www.CLB.org/ClickAndGo or call 1-877-607-3689, the App will be available soon!