Digital wayfinding guidelines
New technologies are providing a range of new ways for people with disabilities to navigate around environments.
Along with providing general support, reception and support staff should be equipped with awareness of digital wayfinding technologies and how they work.
High and low-tech solutions should be made available, not everyone has access to high-tech solutions.
Visitor guides and information booklets
Visitor guides and information booklets should provide information on digital wayfinding support for people living with disability. This information should be available in HTML format so that a person can check the information before visiting a building, site or venue.
Buildings and offices should have up-to-date information on Google Maps and Apple Maps listing the access support of the building, such as wheelchair access.
Following is an example taken from Google Maps showing an accessibility feature (wheelchair-accessible entrance) at the State Library of South Australia.
Digital directory boards and maps
Directory boards should be provided in an alternative digital format that can be viewed on a person's personal device.
Ensure digital directory boards use a strong contrast between text, icons, and background colours.
Directory boards should also use iconography and other visual means to communicate where the person currently is, and where they want to go.
Avoid scrolling animations. These may distract some people with cognitive and learning disabilities, and trigger vestibular (inner ear) disorders in others. Reactions include dizziness, nausea and headaches.
Lifts, reception, escalators, and stairs should be clearly highlighted on directory maps using text, icons, and colour.
Accessible toilets, and toilets for ambulant users, should also be clearly highlighted using text, icons, and colour.
Both large-screen digital maps, and digital maps displayed on a person's personal device should include wheelchair-accessible routes and step-free options.
Beacon technology is used by people who are blind of have a low vision to help them navigate indoor spaces. The beacons are integrated with an app, and can direct users to the place they need to go. Implementing beacon technology in public and office spaces can enhance the experience for some people who are blind or have low vision.
Providing hearing augmentation such as a hearing loop at reception desks can assist hearing aid users when asking for directions or assistance. Common places where hearing loops can be found are in churches, public buses and other enclosed establishments where people gather.
To indicate the provision of a hearing loop, display a sign incorporating the international symbol for deafness in accordance with Australian Standards 1428.1.
Deafness forum of Australia has a signage guide for hearing augmentations systems.
Sample sign for Hearing Loop System
QR codes can enhance digital wayfinding by providing an easy way for people to load web or app content. Use QR codes to link to wayfinding information such as online directories, accessibility support, Google and Apple maps, and indoor maps.
Include a text label with the QR code indicating its target pages.
QR codes can also be used to provide extra information when surface area is limited.
Guidance on QR code placement
- Place QR codes on, or adjacent to, the path of travel.
- Where possible, place QR code consistently on the left side of a doorway on the external wall or on a freestanding sign adjacent the path of travel. Avoid placing QR codes on doors.
- Ensure a clear circulation space of 1500 mm x 15000 mm in front of QR code to allow an unobstructed approach.
- Locate between 1000 mm and 2000 mm from the edge of a swinging door.
- Locate at a height between 900 mm and 1100 mm.
- Consider placing ‘tiger tape’ or other high-visibility tape around the QR code to help people with low vision locate and use the code.
There are many apps designed to assist people with a disability. Listed here are some examples. Their usability or usefulness has not been tested and their inclusion here should not be considered an endorsement.
- Describes objects around people using artificial intelligence (Microsoft Seeing AI)
- Navigating around the built environment (Microsoft Soundscape)
- Human assistant to help navigate around the environment (Aira)
- Navigate indoor spaces (Bindimaps)
- Speech generating devices using eye tracking (Tobii)
- Auslan Tutor - contains over 500 signs (Next Sense)
Device accessibility settings
In addition to apps, most devices come with many accessibility settings built in. An example is OCR (optical character recognition) of print text such as newspapers, packaging, or signage. Apple also recently introduced sound recognition for important sounds.
A full list of device accessibility settings
Training in app use
Training on use of apps can be sought from an Orientation and Mobility Instructor from agencies such as Guide Dogs SA/NT or Royal Society for the Blind.