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Shannon K Riley, Aaron Johnson, Olga Overbury, Walter Wittich; Low vision reading speed comparison of CCTV and iPad. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2015;56(7 ):4793.
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Clients with low vision can receive training to use either CCTV magnifiers, or optical magnification devices to help improve reading performance. Electronic reading devices (e.g., Apple iPad) offer an alternative magnification solution. A few studies have explored the use of the iPad as a reading device in low vision; yet have done so without controlling for the content of the text (e.g., number of words, complexity of text), comprehension, and without addressing any questions on language proficiency. Such factors are known predictors of reading rate. Here, we improve on the methodology of previous studies, to assess the iPad in comparison to other reading assistive technologies.
81 participants (mean age = 84, range 23-97; mean VA in the better eye = 20/135, range 20/112 to 20/163) completed the Montreal Cognitive Assessment, the Visual Function 14 (VF14) Questionnaire, in addition to questions about language, education, experience with CCTV/iPad, and reading habits. For reading texts, we used the International Reading Speed Texts (iReST), which are normalized for complexity and number of words. Participants read in their first language (English or French), and were asked a multiple-choice comprehension question following each text. We compared baseline-reading rates (i.e., no magnification) to the reading rates with the Apple iPad, CCTV, and preferred magnification device typically used at home.
As assessed by the VF14, all participants reported having great difficulty (or being unable) to read normal sized text. Only data obtained from trials with correct comprehension answers were analyzed. After considering differences in text difficulty, overall reading rates did differ from baseline (p<.001), but did not differ statistically among the three magnification conditions, p = .73.
Given the similarities in reading rates, the Apple iPad may potentially be as effective as the currently used technologies within low vision rehabilitation for improving reading rates. A larger sample is needed to conduct subgroup analyses on who would optimally benefit from tablet computer magnification in low vision.
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