July 2018
Volume 59, Issue 9
Open Access
ARVO Annual Meeting Abstract  |   July 2018
Smartphone and tablet usage among individuals with vision impairment: Are mainstream devices replacing traditional visual aids?
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Natalie Martiniello
    School of Optometry, Université de Montréal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
    CRIR/Centre de réadaptation MAB-Mackay du CIUSSS du Centre-Ouest-de-l’Île-de-Montréal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  • Magdalena Bittner
    Munich University of Applied Sciences, Munich, Germany
  • Werner Eisenbarth
    Munich University of Applied Sciences, Munich, Germany
  • Christine Lehane
    Department of Psychology, University of Copenhagen (Denmark), Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Aaron Johnson
    Department of Psychology, Concordia University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  • Walter Wittich
    School of Optometry, Université de Montréal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
    CRIR/Centre de réadaptation MAB-Mackay du CIUSSS du Centre-Ouest-de-l’Île-de-Montréal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  • Footnotes
    Commercial Relationships   Natalie Martiniello, None; Magdalena Bittner, None; Werner Eisenbarth, None; Christine Lehane, None; Aaron Johnson, None; Walter Wittich, None
  • Footnotes
    Support  Principal investigator's doctoral work is supported by the Fonds de recherche Sante du Quebec and the CNIB Ross Purse Doctoral Fellowship
Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science July 2018, Vol.59, 643. doi:
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      Natalie Martiniello, Magdalena Bittner, Werner Eisenbarth, Christine Lehane, Aaron Johnson, Walter Wittich; Smartphone and tablet usage among individuals with vision impairment: Are mainstream devices replacing traditional visual aids?. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2018;59(9):643.

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

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Abstract

Purpose : Despite their utility, traditional assistive devices (e.g. video magnifiers and telescopes) are often abandoned due to cost, lack of technical support, and stigma. Smartphones and tablets provide similar accessibility features; however, little is known about the role such devices play among blind and low vision users. This research explores the use of smartphones and tablets among blind and low vision users and the degree to which such tools are being used to complete tasks previously performed with traditional assistive aids.

Methods : Participants were invited through social media, listservs and rehabilitation centres to complete an anonymous online survey between September and November 2017. Individuals 18 years or older who were blind or had low vision and who had used a smartphone or tablet for three or more months were eligible to participate. 466 participants aged 18-80 (M=41, SD=14) responded, 47% of whom were female and 53% male. 92% had a severe or profound visual impairment, while 8% had a mild or moderate visual impairment (as defined by WHO ICD-10). Kruskal-Wallis tests were used to identify differences between groups of respondents (α=.05).

Results : 69% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that using a mainstream (rather than a traditional) device was important to them, but intermediate and advanced mainstream device users were statistically significantly more likely to agree with this statement: p<.05, η2=.04. 88% agreed that mainstream devices are replacing traditional devices, but beginner mainstream device users (p<.05, η2=.09) and participants above age 60 (p<.05, η2=.02) were statistically significantly less likely to agree with this statement. Smartphones mostly or always replaced traditional devices for navigation, reading audiobooks, identifying objects, reading eBooks and optical character recognition, but for many tasks replacement was statistically significantly less likely among older participants (p<.05, η2=.02-.04) and those with milder vision loss (p<.05, η2=.06-.12).

Conclusions : These results shed light on the impact of mainstream devices among blind and low vision users and the demographic factors that influence device usage, allowing rehabilitation professionals to better meet the needs of clients they serve.

This is an abstract that was submitted for the 2018 ARVO Annual Meeting, held in Honolulu, Hawaii, April 29 - May 3, 2018.

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