I see therefore i read: improving the reading capabilities of individuals with visual disabilities through immersive virtual reality
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AbstractWe aim to help improve the quality of life of people with visual disabilities through the application of emerging technologies. Our current research investigates the viability of virtual reality (VR) as an aid for persons with visual disabilities. In this article, we explore the potential of VR-assisted reading. We investigate the reading effects of VR equipment on persons with visual disabilities by utilising variations of standardised optometry-informed reading tests conducted across 24 participants. Test results uncovered that, when comparing a worn VR head-mounted display (HMD) to physical unaided tests, results within a HMD scaled better at closer distances, while unaided tests scaled better with further distances. Using the findings collected and requirements elicited from participants, a prototype document reader was developed for reading text within a VR-immersed 3D environment, allowing low-vision users to customise and configure accessibility features for enhanced reading. This software was tested with 11 new participants alongside user evaluations, allowing us to discover how users perceived text best within our 3D virtual environments, and what features and techniques are required to evolve this accessibility tool further. The user test reported an overwhelmingly positive response to our tool as a feasible reading aid, allowing persons who could not engage (or, due to the difficulty, refusing to) in the reading of material to do so. We also register some limitations and areas for improvement, such as a need for non-functional requirements to be improved, and the aesthetics of our design to be improved going forward.
CitationWeir, K., Loizides, F., Nahar, V., Aggoun, A. and Pollard, A. (2021) I see therefore i read: improving the reading capabilities of individuals with visual disabilities through immersive virtual reality. Universal Access in the Information Society 10.1007/s10209-021-00854-8
JournalUniversal Access in the Information Society
SponsorsThis work is funded by the Beacon Centre for the Blind and the University of Wolverhampton.