Individuals with Low vision are able to see, but, even with powerful corrective lenses, certain visual tasks may still present challenges. People with low vision experience a loss of vision to the extent that they are required to learn new ways of navigating through common daily activities.
Many of the causes of blindness are also the causes of low vision, such as:
- Diabetic Retinopathy
- Macular Degeneration
These conditions impact one's vision by blurring, masking, or changing the way they are able to see. With diabetic retinopathy, a person mights see floating dark spots in their vision, while macular degeneration causes the person to not be able to see in their central vision field.
Normal vision vs. Diabetic Retinopathy
"According to the Bright Focus™ Foundation, this condition is the primary cause of loss of vision and blindness in older individuals ages 60 and above and is known under these circumstances as age-related macular degeneration. Studies conducted by the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) indicate that 10 to 15 million Americans have a diagnosis of age-related macular degeneration. Moreover, macular degeneration is a world-wide problem as the second most frequent cause of irreversible blindness globally."
Normal vision vs. Macular Degeneration
Here is a look at a few other common causes of low vision:
Normal vision vs. Cataracts
Normal vision vs. Glaucoma
Normal vision vs. Keratoconous
Navigating the Digital World
People with low vision engage and interact with computers, mobile devices, and other digital interfaces such as kiosks by using assistive technologies, such as magnifiers and screen readers.
For people with low vision, small text may be difficult to read. In order to read text, different type of magnifiers are used in different settings. The most common assistive technology for low vision users are screen magnifiers. Screen magnification software allows users to zoom into sections of the screen. The user is then able to read the enlarged text and graphics.
When text are embedded within graphics, the image (and text) may become pixelated when screen magnification software attempts to enlarge the image. This is another reason for avoiding the use of text-based images. Instead, overlaying text can be a more effective and universally accessible approach, so long as their is enough consistent contrast between the overlay text and the image behind the text.
Similarly to people who are blind, low vision users also benefit from and commonly use screen reader software to engage and interact with web content. Screen readers, read the text and content on the page, which can provide as a helpful reprieve for users straining to visually interact with their browser's interface.
Many screen enlargement features are built into computer and mobile device operating systems and, as it pertains to accessing the web, most modern browsers provide options for enlarging the visual display though zooming functionality.
Web designers and developers can follow certain steps in order to provide a universally accessible user experience. Providing options to enlarge screen text and choosing color contrast schemas, conforming to WCAG color contrast guidelines, and allowing pinch-to-zoom functionality with mobile sites and native applications are just some of the many important ways designers can help ensure a positive user experience for their users.
AudioEye Developer Tools for Evaluating and Fixing Issues Impacting Users with Low Vision
AudioEye Personalization Tools Addressing Issues Impacting Users with Low Vision
The AudioEye Ally Toolbar provides users with low vision with several options to optimize the user experience to meet their needs. The Reader utility provides users with several options for zooming the visual display of a website, adjusting the color contrast of foreground text in relation to the background color, selecting text fonts, and controlling line height, word, and margin spacing. Each of these personalization settings are easily controlled through the visual interface or through access keys that provide keyboard-friendly shortcuts for adjusting the user experience to meet the needs, wants, and expectations of end-users.
In addition to the Reader utility, the Ally Toolbar also comes with a screen-reader-like user experience called the Player. This utility allows users to listen to site content read aloud through a sophisticated and automatic text-to-speech process. Users can use basic key commands to listen and navigate website content or engage and interact with web forms and other site elements.