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Public transport accessibility and inclusivity for people with low vision

   Cardiff School of Computer Science & Informatics

About the Project

Our ongoing research across two Schools in Cardiff University, Computer Science and Vision Sciences, have enabled us to understand issues and challenges people with low vision face in their daily commute using public transport. For example, we have understood that people with low vision, need help with seeing the bus numbers approaching the bus stop, would like to know there is space for them to sit down when they are onboard, would like to know whether their destination stop is accessible and there are no road-work diversions, and many other real-time information which will make their daily commute stress-free. Lack of this information exasperate people with low visions’ anxiety while using public transport. In addition, our recent study with people with low vision has shown that such people are comfortable using their mobile phone and or other forms of technology as long as it is simple and easy to use. Additionally, technology has shown to help those visually impaired people’s mobility and navigation. Although the current preliminary study focuses on mobility aids, the participants clearly indicate that techniques for visual enhancement could make them more confident and less anxious to use the public transport. Benefiting from these streams of studies we have already undertaken, the project aims to carry out proof-of-concept feasibility studies by developing effective visual enhancement techniques as well as software platforms to access and use public transport safely. If successful, this can potentially lead to a larger scale prototype development and study with people with low vision in town centres.

To achieve this, we partner with Guided Dogs, RNIB, Cardiff Institute for the Blind, Sight Cymru and Public Transport for Wales, to provide facilities and support for carrying out the study. This PhD project is suitable for someone with strong HCI (specially user-centred design and field studies), software engineering and data analyses skills. The PhD is going to be interdisciplinary and working in a team is essential.

To give a general idea about project milestones, we expect the PhD candidate to:

1- Have a good understanding of literature, conducting user studies, and analysing qualitative and quantitative data.

2- Complete the ethics application for field studies.

3- Arrange logistics with public transport organisations and recruitment of participants.

4- The PhD project will develop visual enhancement techniques as well as software platforms for mobile platforms that can potentially help visually impaired access public transport information, commute safely and confidently, and transmit essential information about people with low visions’ needs to the bus service and local authorities.

5- Study and compare effectiveness of different enhancement techniques, as well as how their combinations work in the field e.g. Cardiff and Newport town centres.

6- Write, publish and present at international conferences and prestigious journals.

Supervisory Team

Dr Parisa Eslambolchilar (School of Computer Science and Informatics),

Prof Tom Margrain (School of Optometry and Vision Sciences)

Prof Yukun Lai (School of Computer Science and Informatics),

Entry Requirements

A 2:1 Honours undergraduate degree or a master's degree, in computing or a related subject.  Applicants with appropriate professional experience are also considered. Degree-level mathematics (or equivalent) is required for research in some project areas.

Applicants for whom English is not their first language must demonstrate proficiency by obtaining an IELTS score of at least 6.5 overall, with a minimum of 6.0 in each skills component.

Application Information: If you would like to be considered for the School Funded Application, please submit your application before the 30th June 2021. 

In the funding field of your application, insert “I am applying for 2021 PhD Scholarship in Computer Science and Informatics”, and specify the project title and supervisors of this project in the text box provided.

Apply online: - Please read the "How to apply" instructions carefully prior to application. 

Funding Notes

A School-Funded PhD Scholarship is available for entry 2021/22. If you are interested in applying for a PhD Scholarship, please follow the instructions available on our website: View Website
In the Funding field of your application, insert "I am applying for 2021 PhD Scholarship" and specify the project title and supervisor of this project in the fields provided.
This project is also open to Self-Funded students worldwide.

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