Indoor Navigation / Wayfinding Issue Paper


This document is an issue paper about indoor navigation. It helps people orient themselves, explore, and navigate through buildings such as museums, hospitals, airports, and public transportation stations. Indoor navigation has come to be known as wayfinding. It is separate from outdoor navigation, such as via global positioning systems (GPS), primarily because GPS do not function inside buildings. See [reference and link to GPS navigation issue paper].

Challenges for people with cognitive disabilities

Difficulty with wayfinding by people with cognitive disabilities ranges from minimal to extreme. They may need minimal help to navigate an indoor location, or they may need more help, such as detailed, step-by-step directions. This can have an impact on people with impairments of:


People with cognitive disabilities may have to:

Executive function

People with cognitive disabilities may not:

Attention-related limitations

People with cognitive disabilities:

Language-related functions

People with cognitive disabilities may not understand proposed routes because they:

Perception-processing limitations

Many people with cognitive disabilities may not:

Reduced knowledge

Some people with cognitive disabilities may not be able to navigate indoors because:

Use cases

Proposed solutions

Ease-of-use ideas


Sample Apps

Research Sources

  1. Wayfindr Standard Issued to Address Exponentially Growing Indoor Audio Navigation Market (The Global Initiative for Inclusive ICTs, 2017)
  2. Wayfinding news articles - latest research, products, etc. (John Rochford, 2011 - Now)
  3. Accessible Way-Finding using Web Technologies (W3C, 2014)
  4. Accessible Way-Finding Using Web Technologies Symposium Home (W3C, 2014)
  5. Accessible Way-Finding using Web Technologies Online Symposium 3 (W3C, 2014)
  6. Way-finding systems (W3C, 2014)
  7. Extended Abstract for the RDWG Symposium on Accessible Way-Finding Using Web Technologies, Accessible Wayfinding Ontologies for People with Disabilities (W3C, 2014)
  8. Geo-fencing (to address wandering, a problem for people with dementia, autism, ID, ...)
  9. Wearable trackers, e.g., LoJack (study on how to obtain insurance coverage)
  10. John Sanchez, IBM Engineer - Has been working on Wayfinding for years (i.e, w/ RFID)
  11. Aura Ganz, UMass Amherst Engineer - Pilot using NFC at MBTA Arlington Street Station
  12. Possibility: