Journeycam: Exploring Experiences Of Accessibility And Mobility Among Powered Wheelchair Users Through Video
Many disabled people face barriers when accessing public spaces and modes of transport. JourneyCam is a phone application for capturing video and sensor data ‘on the go’, enabling powered wheelchair users to document their experiences of mobility and to reflect upon them in subsequent interviews.
This process generates valuable insights into the nuances and complexities of disabled people’s experiences of getting about, and the disabling barriers and interactions they face. The conversations facilitated through JourneyCam also enable users to discuss how society could address these barriers and work towards more inclusive environments and interactions.
As such, they form a first step in civic engagement that is grounded in disabled people’s experiences of place and mobility.
HOW IT WORKS
JourneyCam consists of hardware and software tools: a smartphone application to record video clips and other data, and data processing and visualisation software to support post-journey sharing and discussion.
The phone is mounted to participants’ powered wheelchairs to suit their preferences, and for the duration of the trip JourneyCam records video, GPS and accelerometer data.
Participants use a Bluetooth button to capture a short clip of video and data, which includes a short loop of ‘pre-roll’ footage before the button is pressed. These data were used to structure reflective interviews with individual participants after their journeys, and subsequent Skype workshops to explore common themes and strategies which could improve accessibility amongst multiple participants.
JourneyCam was used by powered wheelchair users to document their everyday experiences of mobility, and to elucidate rich and nuanced meanings around these experiences. It also facilitated an exploration of ways in which these could serve as a starting point to improve disabled people’s experiences of ‘getting about’.
Most participants said they would use JourneyCam again, or commented that taking part had inspired them to record journeys in future. This was because it enabled them to show their perspective on the issues that mattered to them, helping them to structure conversations around these issues on their own terms.
PURPOSEFUL DATA CAPTURE
By enabling purposeful data capture, JourneyCam enabled powered wheelchair users to capture events and situations they perceived as meaningful while experiencing them. This stemmed from our desire to explore people’s embodied, in-the-moment experiences and subsequent reflections on those experiences.
Many participants expressed how aspects such as the ‘bad quality of the video footage, with visible camera shake, highlighted important aspects of their experience such as the poor quality of the surface on which they travelled. In turn, this led to discussions about how this impacted on their everyday lives, and the interactions they had with those charged with the upkeep of roads and pavements in their attempts to bring about improvements to these surfaces.
JourneyCam data was part of a broader collaborative process of sense-making about powered wheelchair users’ experiences, including data collection, semi-structured interviews, and Skype workshops.
The data participants collected ran through these activities, serving in later stages to refresh people’s memories and in some cases reflect upon them differently. Through these processes, grounded in the physical places that the participant and researcher had experienced together (but differently) during data collection, participants were able to surface and discuss issues of concern.
This suggests that when technology is used in an attempt to understand people’s experiences of place, there is less need for ‘more data’ per se than there is for the tools and processes to help structure discussion and dialogue around it.
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