Rapid City, South Dakota, United States
Coraopolis, Pennsylvania, United States
Colorado, United States
Albuquerque, New Mexico, United States
Leveraging Innovative Technology to Develop the Smart Travel Concierge System to Facilitate Pre-Trip Planning and Virtualization for Individuals with Cognitive Disabilities
As part of this study, AbleLink Smart Living Technologies developed and evaluated a suite of cognitively accessible tools called the Smart Travel Concierge System (STCS). The system is comprised of four subsystems, designed to support self-assessment of current transportation skills, general training on those skills, personalized tools to support timely and accurate completion of pre-trip preparation activities, and to virtually experience trips prior to actual engagement in travel. STCS aims to support increased independence in use of fixed route transportation for individuals who may otherwise be reliant on paratransit. The system leverages previously developed technology and provides a powerful companion system to complement the Special Media for Assisting Route Travel (SMART) wayfinding set of tools (e.g., WayFinder). The STCS subsystems can be used independently, as stand-alone components, or in concert with WayFinder and its associated components.
Informal usability testing was conducted with local volunteers with cognitive disabilities to observe their interactions with interfaces, navigation strategies, feature options, and other components of project subsystems. In more controlled testing situations, data collection forms and protocols were prepared and reviewed to assure a variety of possible data collection scenarios were addressed. The evaluation tests include a pre-test/post-test study to measure changes in travel readiness knowledge, including vehicle identification, with a total of 23 individuals from Southern and Western Colorado with intellectual disabilities under a controlled testing environment. Twelve participants from Southern and Western Colorado completed two simulated “day of travel” scenarios, with the technologies and without, using traditional supports (e.g. paper-based supports, digital clock). Field-implementation activities were conducted with several partners, including non-profit and adult services agency in Coraopolis, Pennsylvania, Rapid City, South Dakota, and Albuquerque, New Mexico.
- Users of the self-directed Training Library modules of Identifying Buses by Name and Identifying Buses by Number showed nine percent improvement (score increased from 7.87 to 8.57) in vehicle identification knowledge among the study group (23 participants).
- Twelve participants with intellectual disabilities were able to complete more pre-trip preparation tasks (a 14 percent increase in number of tasks completed) using the prototype STCS apps, compared with the traditional trip planning methods.
- Improved efficacy of starting and completing pre-trip execution tasks was observed. Five of the 12 participants started on time and eight completed the tasks on time when prompted using traditional support methods, while 11 of 12 participants both started and finished on time when using the STCS supports.
- A before and after study with 10 individuals in the field implementation showed improvement in Street Crossing Skills (a 14 percent increase in the mean Transportation Readiness baseline score) following participation in the SMART Wayfinding travel project.
- The ability to display or remove the Calendar navigation or To Do List tools in the Pre-Trip Execution System’s scheduling module extends the usability to a wider range of cognitive ability.
Technology interventions developed in this project can break down the barriers in the minds of human service agencies, families, and other caregivers toward being more open for independent community travel for individuals with cognitive disabilities, with the potential to improve their quality of life.