Going to places, especially unfamiliar ones can be difficult for people with impaired vision. Official access information may give the big picture but not the detail they require to go confidently where they have not been to before. In contrast, they will know their own neighbourhood and favourite places like the back of their hand. How can this valuable information be shared with others who need it and a timely and multi-layered map of a city be built up from which all can benefit?
Patchworks is a web-based system for personal mapping and wayfinding that enables knowledge sharing between people of all ages, interests and abilities
A city like London is a multi-layered entity and our individual portrait of an area will be made up of things that interest, inspire and defeat us. The physical fabric of the city is also composed of things that have been there for centuries alongside those that were put there five minutes ago and this shifting reality can pose problems for people who have difficulty navigating.
Patchworks draws on two popular online communities and one resource for conceptual inspiration. It can be described as being like ‘MySpace meets StreetMap meets Wikipedia’. Like these sites it is owned or can be accessed by all, can grow organically and can adapt flexibly and reflect the changing patterns, activities and environment of the city. Importantly it can meet the need of everyone for current information that is regularly updated and offers a space where people can meet and share their interests and insights. Patchworks is not a disability-specific site but one to which people of all abilities and interests can. Users of the site can build up a personal profile of their physical and sensory needs, cultural and other interests and share information about their ‘patch’ with others in a virtual community that is open to all. In this way, Patchworks will encourage people with disabilities and difficulties to have the confidence and reassurance to be more spontaneous about travel and exploring places.