Mind the Maps: Connecting People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired with Geographic Contexts


Photo of Brett Oppegaard, PhD
Brett Oppegaard, PhD
Associate Professor, School of Communications, UH Manoa


April 9, 2020 - 2:00 PM


April 9, 2020 - 3:00 PM

Mind the Maps: Connecting People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired with Geographic Contexts

For the sighted, visual maps efficiently depict distinct features, such as landmarks, as well as structural information, such as distance between places, and even the relative directions of those features compared to others, which all can be assessed with a glance (Stock, Peterson, Hancock, & Verdi, 1995). We found this to be interesting terrain for scholars with various research agendas, including in technical communication, new media, media accessibility, disability rights, and Universal Design.

In this webinar, we will discuss our mixed-methods approach into Audio Description research of maps included feedback from diverse blind, visually impaired, and sighted stakeholders. We will also share how we tested these insight through field work, complemented by multiple interviews and focus groups.

Join us as we showcase the digital tools we developed – including open-source software and free mobile apps – for iterative testing and sharing of ideas, primarily at U.S. National Parks.

About the Presenter

Photo of Brett Oppegaard, PhD

Brett Oppegaard, an Associate Professor at the University of Hawai‘i, has earned such accolades as the Dr. Margaret Pfanstiehl Achievement Award from the American Council of the Blind, for his Audio Description research, the U.S. National Park Service’s George and Helen Hartzog Award, for research into mobile app development and media delivery systems, and the national John Wesley Powell Prize, for outstanding achievement in the field of historical displays. For this work, his research has been supported by federal agencies, such as the U.S. National Endowment for the Humanities and the U.S. National Park Service, but also by private foundations and corporations, such as Google.

His research projects include collaborations with more than 75 national park sites throughout the country, including with America’s first national park, Yellowstone, and Harpers Ferry Center, the Interpretive Design Center of the federal agency.

He works in the School of Communications, within the College of Social Sciences at the University of Hawai‘i’s flagship Mānoa campus in Honolulu, HI.

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