Curtin University has been awarded a $40,000 research grant that will ultimately be used to improve urban environments for disabled people.
The Dr Louisa Alessandri Research Grant was awarded to Curtin to help fund a study into how people with disabilities use smartphones to navigate their way around urban spaces.
A new app will be developed to track and map the participants’ movements from their smartphones’ global positioning system.
The project will collect data from four people in three different locations – Curtin University, Perth and Bunbury.
Two of the participants will be wheelchair users, the other two vision impaired.
Disability Services Minister Donna Faragher said smartphones were becoming an integral part of how disabled people travelled, and the findings would enable local governments to make informed decisions on upgrades.
“The project will look at how people with disability are using smartphones to travel around suburbs, towns and cities,” Mrs Faragher said.
“This might include using a smartphone app to locate accessible taxi ranks or a local government’s ACROD parking map to plan their journey.
“The app will regularly capture the participants’ phone use to see how mobile devices and apps are becoming an integral part of how people with disability travel around in urban spaces.”
The grant honours renowned child health researcher Dr Louisa Alessandri who, despite being diagnosed with muscular dystrophy at an early age, forged a formidable academic career.
Dr Alessandri passed away in 1997.