Dr. Robert Wall Emerson
Dr. Robert Wall Emerson is a professor in the Department of Blindness and Low Vision Studies at Western Michigan University and is a lead researcher in the field of orientation and mobility. He received his PhD in Orientation and Mobility from Vanderbilt University in 1999. He has published and presented hundreds of articles on his research of transportation mobility issues for the visually impaired.
Dr. Wall Emerson collaborated with Daniel Ashmead at Vanderbilt on how sound is used by blind people to guide navigation to develop models explaining commonly observed perceptual problems for blind people, such as why they often veer into an open space to their left or right.
He was part of a large multisite NEI/NIH project, headed by Richard Long, spanning 10 years that investigated many aspects of access to complex intersections. Results have had far-reaching impacts on urban design. Roundabout designers incorporate the findings into newer designs and this has impacted national policy on audible pedestrian signals.
Dr. Wall Emerson has spent over a decade investigating biomechanical processes associated with long cane use by people who are blind, most recently in collaboration with Dae Shik Kim. They have gathered the most thorough database of biomechanical trials on people who are blind, which will, once fully analyzed, define biomechanics of long cane use for the field of Orientation and Mobility.
With colleagues from blindness, mechanical engineering, and auto manufacturing, Dr. Wall Emerson has investigated how hybrid and electric vehicles impact street crossing decisions of blind people. This work has influenced development of national policies.