Towards more helpful bus tracker apps for blind transit riders


  • Rakesh Babu University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
  • Paige Fuller University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee



Bus Tracker, Public Transit Agency, Blind User, Help-Seeking Situation, Help Feature


Bus trackers aid in travel planning with real-time bus arrival and location information. However, their sight-centered design means they’re inherently challenging for the blind. A clear understanding of their help-seeking situations in interacting with bus trackers is necessary to design appropriate help features as a solution.

We present a qualitative method to study help-seeking situations of blind users in interacting with bus-trackers, and illustrate its application on the use of CTA bus tracker. Think-aloud observation of seven participants generated verbal reports of performing bus-tracking activities. Qualitative analysis explained what, where, and how help-seeking situations arose in learning the interface, in site interaction, determining estimated time of arrival, requesting ETA alerts, and finding bus location. We elaborate results pertinent to key help-seeking situations, the underlying help needs, and design implications for appropriate help features. The paper contributes a feasible qualitative method to study help-seeking situations, as well as valuable insights into the thoughts, actions and perceptions of blind users in real time bus tracking. This represents the first step towards developing the tool to transform the 45 million blind citizens into empowered transit riders. Implications for transit agencies, real time systems designers, and research in travel management, human-computer interaction and cognitive science are discussed.




How to Cite

Babu, R., & Fuller, P. (2015). Towards more helpful bus tracker apps for blind transit riders. First Monday, 20(6).