September 2016
Volume 57, Issue 12
Open Access
ARVO Annual Meeting Abstract  |   September 2016
Accessibility Features of the Apple Watch: a Performance Survey Within the Low Vision Community
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Kelly Oppenneer
    Illinois College of Optometry, Chicago, Illinois, United States
  • Alan Labrum
    Illinois College of Optometry, Chicago, Illinois, United States
  • Gregg Pusateri
    Spectrios Institute, Wheaton, Illinois, United States
  • Walter M Jay
    Ophthalmology, Loyola University Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, United States
  • Footnotes
    Commercial Relationships   Kelly Oppenneer, None; Alan Labrum, None; Gregg Pusateri, None; Walter Jay, None
  • Footnotes
    Support  None
Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science September 2016, Vol.57, 5162. doi:
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      Kelly Oppenneer, Alan Labrum, Gregg Pusateri, Walter M Jay; Accessibility Features of the Apple Watch: a Performance Survey Within the Low Vision Community. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2016;57(12):5162.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Purpose : The Apple Watch is a new technology that has accessibility features to enhance usability by individuals with low vision; these features include the Taptic Engine, Speech interpretation and recognition interface (Siri), Zoom, VoiceOver, and enlarged text. This study surveyed the preferences of a population of individuals with low vision regarding these features.

Methods : Twenty-two patients (12 females, 10 males) with low vision from the Chicago Lighthouse and Spectrios Institute responded to an IRB-approved survey that gathered information about their current technology use and their perspectives on the accessibility features of the Apple Watch. Eligible patients were over the age of 18, naïve to use of the Apple Watch, and had a best-corrected visual acuity of 20/50 to 20/200 in their better eye. Participants were asked to comment on their technology use prior to the study. Participants were then given a one half to one hour training session on the accessibility features of the Apple Watch. Afterward, they were prompted to provide feedback on the most and least useful accessibility features and their comfort in using the watch to navigate, text, and comprehend information on the screen display using the features.

Results : The mean age of the respondents was 55.6 years, with ages ranging from 22 to 90. There were 16 diagnoses represented, with macular degeneration (4), ocular albinism (3), and Stargardt disease (2) being the most common. At the time the survey was given, prior device use was as follows: closed circuit television (45%), computer (95%), tablet (45%), cell phone (91%), and GPS (68%). VoiceOver was found to be the most commonly preferred feature, with 37% believing it would be most useful in assisting with their daily activities; the least popular feature was Zoom (39%). About 30% of participants found Siri to be the most useful feature, and about 20% felt that the Taptic Engine would be most beneficial. Overall, 64% of the individuals felt that they would purchase an Apple Watch after learning its accessibility features.

Conclusions : The accessibility features incorporated into the Apple Watch may allow individuals with low vision to have an enhanced ability to carry out activities of daily living. Low vision practitioners should demonstrate the Apple Watch to their patients as a potentially useful tool to achieve greater independence and facility in completing daily activities.

This is an abstract that was submitted for the 2016 ARVO Annual Meeting, held in Seattle, Wash., May 1-5, 2016.


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