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Keywords:

  • intellectual disability;
  • landmarks;
  • wayfinding

Abstract

Background  The present study was aimed at investigating the selection of landmarks by individuals with intellectual disability (ID). The hypothesis was that they would be less efficient than individuals without IDs in the selection of landmarks when learning a new route.

Methods  The experiment took place in a natural setting with a group of participants with ID and a group of control participants matched by chronological age. The participants were first guided along a route situated in an unfamiliar district. Then, they had to guide the experimenter along the route while pointing to all the objects and features they found useful for wayfinding.

Results  The designated objects were categorised as a function of their landmarks properties. There were significant differences between the two groups for non-permanent landmarks, distant landmarks and non-unique landmarks. The two groups selected landmarks near intersections in the same proportions. However, the individuals with ID selected more non-unique landmarks and less textual signage than the control group at these decision points.

Conclusion  Individuals with ID seem to be less efficient than individuals without disability in landmark selection. This may limit their wayfinding abilities in their day-to-day travelling. This may also account for their difficulties in obtaining the kind of spatial knowledge which relates to the configural structure of their environment.