Alternative wayfinding systems to assist blind/visually impaired to independently navigate college campuses


Presented at 8:00am in Westminster III on Thursday, November 21, 2019.



  • Jim Kessler, Senior Access Consultant, AHEAD

Session Details

  • Length of Session: 1-hr
  • Format: Lecture
  • Expertise Level: All Levels
  • Type of session: General Conference


A discussion looking at positives and negatives of: accessible written directions (wordmaps), ‘sounding’ devices, directional and location beacons, real-time descriptions designed to enhance independent wayfinding for blind/visually impaired on college campuses.


Wayfinding (orientation) around a college campus is generally easy for sighted individuals. There are maps, building signs, room numbers and pictograms that provide information about where one is, where they need to get to, and confirm their arrival. All of the wayfinding information is produced by the institution with no charge to the user. For the blind/visually impaired there is generally no equally effective on-going wayfinding information leaving it up to the students to arrange for their own orientation to the campus and its multiple environs.

Technology, like localized sounding devices, broadcasting beacons and real time enroute audio description, and screen reader accessed wordmaps have improved campus wayfinding for blind/visually impaired. We will examine the basic problems with campus wayfinding in the life of a visually impaired student and discuss the pro and cons of the current technologies.


  1. Identifying problems associated with wayfinding and independent travel
  2. Reviewing the postives and negatives of current technologies that assist in independent wayfinding
  3. Assuring equal access

Disability Areas


Topic Areas

Alternate Format, Assistive Technology, Uncategorized

Speaker Bio(s)

Jim Kessler

Jim Kessler's professional training is as an Orientation & Mobility Specialists. He has worked in private, public and state/federal agencies and in disability services (Accessibility Resources) at the University of North Carolina for 32 years (16 years as Director). He serves as Senior Access Consultant for AHEAD and for the past decade has created 'word maps' for AHEAD conferences for blind/visually impaired attendees.