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Yueh-Hsun Wu, Christina Granquist, Rachel Gage, Michael Crossland, Gordon E Legge; Surveying the digital reading behavior of people with low vision. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2019;60(9):4957.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Digital reading offers advantages for low vision readers because of customizable display features, such as zoom and choice of contrast polarity. We conducted a survey to assess how people with low vision make use of digital reading in their daily lives including the amount of visual and auditory reading, the display technology they use for visual reading, and their preferred text characteristics.
133 low vision adults completed an online survey. Participants answered questions about the history and nature of their vision condition, their usage of different assistive technologies, and time spent on different reading activities before and after the onset of low vision. Mean age was 46 years (range 18 to 98), and mean self-reported acuity was 0.93 logMAR (range 0.1 to 1.6). The largest diagnostic groups were albinism (36), retinitis pigmentosa (20), and glaucoma (15).
The average proportion of time spent on visual reading (64.6%) was higher than auditory (32.9%) and Braille reading (2.9%). On average, the proportion of visual reading dropped below 50% only for acuities poorer that 1.59 logMAR (close to Snellen 20/800). Participants devoted more time to digital reading than hard-copy reading across all five categories of reading activities surveyed—work or education, news, pleasure, information look-up, and social networking. Participants who learned to read prior to vision loss reported a transition from primary use of hard-copy text to primary use of digital text. Most of our participants (97.7%) used more than one assistive technology for daily visual reading. The most popular technologies were smartphones (69%), screen magnification software (62.4%), and tablets (59.4%). Our participants relied more on enlarged on-screen print size rather than reduced viewing distance to achieve required magnification. 45.8% of participants preferred reading reverse-contrast text and 39.1 preferred reading black-on-white text.
Our findings emphasize the important role of digital text displays and visual reading in the daily lives of low-vision participants with a wide range of acuities. Our study highlights the necessity of continuing research and development of technologies to improve visual reading accessibility for people with low vision.
This abstract was presented at the 2019 ARVO Annual Meeting, held in Vancouver, Canada, April 28 - May 2, 2019.
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