Low vision aids have the potential to increase the confidence and independence of young visually impaired people, a new report has found.
However, the report, published in partnership between the Thomas Pocklington Trust, Vision 2020, VICTA and the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design, warns that the aids must be designed with the needs of their users in mind.
Entitled Design and low vision aids – a youth perspective, the paper documents the views of visually impaired people aged 12–18. The authors also assessed a range of existing consumer digital devices and highlighted the potential for them to be more accessible and enjoyable to use.
The reports states that low vision aids, such as hand-held magnifiers, monoculars, screen readers and smartphones, all have the potential to help visually impaired youngsters in their day-to-day life, from reading and navigation to classroom activities.
One teenager who was interviewed as part of the report, Zoe, commented: "Being able to use my low vision aid intuitively means I do not have to rely on anyone to help me and this makes me more confident in myself."
Yet interviewees commented on how many low vision aids are not discreet or covert enough and can not be used without embarrassment.
Teenagers also expressed a "strong interest in using mainstream technology that combines multi-functionality with appealing design," the report states. An 11-year-old interviewee named Noah commented: "I just want my low vision aid gadgets to look like normal, cool, techy gadgets."