To Build Credibility and Trust for Accessible Transportation Technologies, Address Needs in Application Interaction and Integration with Mobile Platforms before Deploying with Target Populations.

Field Tests and In-Lab Heuristic Testing in Pennsylvania and Seattle, WA Evaluated a Smartphone-Based Trip-Concierge Application Supporting Use of Fixed-Route Transportation by Individuals with Cognitive Disabilities.

Date Posted
03/08/2022
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Identifier
2022-L01095

Accessible Transportation Technologies Research Initiative (ATTRI) Performance Metrics and Evaluation: Evaluation Plan for the AbleLink Wayfinding Standard to Facilitate Independent Use of Public Transit by Individuals with Cognitive Disabilities

Summary Information

The USDOT’s Accessible Transportation Technologies Research Initiative (ATTRI) program conducted research on removing barriers to transportation for individuals with visual, hearing, cognitive, or mobility disabilities.  One ATTRI Accessibility Development Project (ADP) aimed to create an application for smart phones utilizing native, mobile global positioning system (GPS) technology that provides location-aware (i.e., configurable GPS waypoints that identify the location of the user) visual and auditory prompts. The goal of this project was to provide a mobile-based, trip-concierge application that allows users with cognitive disabilities to select, download, and then follow travel routes independently with assistance from specialized visual, audio and vibration prompts. Researchers conducted an evaluation focused on accessibility and usability along the “complete trip,” which refers to an individual’s ability to plan for and complete a trip from origin to destination without disruptions in the travel chain. The evaluation was based on several field tests and in-lab heuristic testing conducted in 2019-2020.

  • Address digital service delivery needs to build credibility and trust with the target population. Three emerging problems appeared with the mobile application related to digital service delivery, which involves how the application interacts with or is integrated into the mobile platform.  Suboptimal phone resource usage, low-accuracy GPS localization and application crashes contributed to damage to trust and credibility that can hold back future progress and innovation.
  • Conduct a small pilot test with several individuals and the evaluation team for accessibility studies before investing resources and time into a large sample population. There are usually diminishing returns in identifying major issues after as few as five participants. As there can be difficulty in accessing the target populations, an initial field test can also support a common understanding of the type and quality of data being collected and potentially identify issues with the data collection. The intent in pilot tests is to leave the higher-value evaluation components to the larger field study.
  • Collect detailed measurable observation of the target population using the system. User behavior is best understood when users not just talk about their experience, but also demonstrate how to use the system. Capturing detailed recordings of user actions can enable linking full user activity behavior to application outcomes or user outcomes.
  • Develop a safety risk model for the target population as part of needs assessment. Potential safety concerns for the target population were addressed through conducting a baseline assessment to ensure that the travelers have a required minimum skillset to allow safe use of the mobile application during travel. Building safety features into the application (for example, providing users with the ability to call for help in every view of the application) can help address safety concerns that may not have been modeled by the development team.
  • Extend needs assessment to secondary users or supporting users. Many projects addressing mobility needs for people with disabilities involve additional users in the loop (whether they are family members, caregivers, therapists, disability practitioners, or even travel agency personnel). Allowing such secondary users to be included in the design and development process could lead to a more seamless user experience appropriate for this population.

Accessible Transportation Technologies Research Initiative (ATTRI) Performance Metrics and Evaluation: Evaluation Plan for the AbleLink Wayfinding Standard to Facilitate Independent Use of Public Transit by Individuals with Cognitive Disabilities

Accessible Transportation Technologies Research Initiative (ATTRI) Performance Metrics and Evaluation: Evaluation Plan for the AbleLink Wayfinding Standard to Facilitate Independent Use of Public Transit by Individuals with Cognitive Disabilities
Source Publication Date
05/01/2021
Author
Caspi, Anat; Mark Hallenbeck; Varsha Konda; and Dylan Cottrell
Publisher
Prepared by Cambridge Systematics and University of Washington for USDOT
Other Reference Number
Report No. FHWA-JPO-21-838

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