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Open Access Accessible Mobile Navigation: Convenience to Some Is Independence for Others

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In 2014, Michigan State University (MSU), the Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities at MSU, and various other departments at MSU expressed a collective interest in creating a platform to help students with disabilities navigate campus by leveraging the growing mobile application (app) ecosystem. Michigan State University occupies a 5,200-acre campus in East Lansing consisting of around 550 buildings. In order to allow independent navigation for a broad spectrum of students and visitors to campus, it was imperative to recognize that the accessibility of software does not guarantee usability and to not shoehorn a single common method of navigation for everyone. In our efforts to find a means to accommodate visual, motor, and other disabilities, we prototyped a wide range of approaches, varying both user-facing components and architectural entities. Collaboration among the departments of engineering, geography, and data science and individuals with disabilities was vital to creating a holistic environment that encouraged the creation of a tool that benefited the needs of a diverse group. The result of this work is the MSU Guide app for iOS. This article summarizes the approach and reasoning behind the design decisions involved in making a campus navigation app that is accessibility focused yet valuable to all.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2018

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  • Technology and Innovation, edited and published by the National Academy of Inventors, is a forum for presenting information encompassing the entire field of applied sciences, with a focus on transformative technology and academic innovation. Regular features of T&I include commentaries contributed by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and in-depth profiles of Fellows of the National Academy of Inventors in every issue.

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