Low Vision

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
  • Cataracts
  • Glaucoma
  • Hemianopia

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.

Side-by-side comparison demonstrating Normal vision vs. Diabetic Retinopathy

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."

iMatrix Optometry

Side-by-side comparison demonstrating Normal vision vs. Macular Degeneration

Normal vision vs. Macular Degeneration

Here is a look at a few other common causes of low vision:

Side-by-side comparison demonstrating Normal vision vs. Cataracts

Normal vision vs. Cataracts

Side-by-side comparison demonstrating Normal vision vs. Glaucoma

Normal vision vs. Glaucoma

Side-by-side comparison demonstrating Normal vision vs. Keratoconous

Normal vision vs. Keratoconous

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

The AudioEye Digital Accessibility Platform provides developers with tools for testing and detecting color contrast issues. Complete with a color-contrast selector, the tool can also be used to remediate color contrast issues for those customers embedding the AudioEye JavaScript. In addition to helping ensure designers and developers have taken careful measure to design and develop their web environments with techniques that help improve the user experience for low-vision users, AudioEye also provides a series of assistive tools that are included with the Ally solution offering.

Learn more about the Digital Accessibility Platform

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.

Learn more about the Ally Toolbar

Source Materials:

American Academy of Ophthalmology: Low Vision

Kaely Wang

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