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Helping everyone find their way on campus

What began as an attempt to add better text descriptions to our Emergency Blue Light Phones on our interactive campus map has turned into a whole lot more thanks to Amelia Palmer and Candice Elison, students with the university’s Web Accessibility Team.

The Idaho Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired’s VISTA (Visually Impaired Students Transitioning to Adulthood) program sponsors an annual College Days event that focuses on unique issues a blind or visually impaired transition student may encounter when preparing to attend a trade school, two-year college, or university.

On June 13, Boise State hosted VISTA students interested in college to stay in residential housing on campus, attend classes that provide information on how to achieve a successful college experience, and participate in recreational activities in and around Boise.

This year’s event featured a wayfinding scavenger hunt planned and organized by Amelia and Candice. The scavenger hunt served multiple purposes: it was a way to help students become familiar with the Boise State campus and feel a sense of community by interacting with university support resources and services, while also helping us gain insights on how to effectively incorporate wayfinding into our campus map directions with a particular focus on the Emergency Blue Light phones.

Wayfinding is the process of figuring out where you are in space and where you must go next to reach your destination. We all use wayfinding in our everyday lives, whether driving a car or taking a walk.

For individuals with disabilities, wayfinding can be different because it may require different skills and steps. This particular wayfinding project paid particular consideration to the Blind/Low Vision (BLV) population because it can be more difficult to ascertain one’s position in space and determine where to go next without the sense of sight.

At the end of the scavenger hunt, students rode the Bronco Shuttle downtown to City Center Plaza to receive prizes donated by the Bronco Shop and 3D printed dragons donated by Dusenbury Designs. They also participated in a feedback session so Boise State can learn from their experiences and make positive changes to make wayfinding on campus easier.

A 3D printed plastic dragon prize resting on a light wooden surface
3D-printed dragon prize donated by Dusenbury Designs.

“Watching the students introduce themselves to the individuals working at Boise State was very rewarding,” said Palmer. “Often the BLV population can struggle to connect with the people around them. So, being encouraged to make the first official step can make a key difference.”

The Idaho Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired hopes to continue this activity during future College Days events, and the university is working with our campus map vendor, Concept3D, to implement wayfinding throughout campus.

This will continue to benefit everyone that needs to find their way at Boise State.