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How the iPad Is Improving Reading for the Visually Impaired

How the iPad Is Improving Reading for the Visually Impaired

E-paper based devices such as Amazon’s Kindle line (except the Kindle Fire, of course), have long been the standard for affordable digital reading (and more convenient than paper books), but users with less-than-perfect vision might not find most of them so appealing.

According to a recent study presented at the American Academy of Ophthalmology, backlit tablets such as the iPad and Android tablets greatly improve the reading experience for vision-impaired users, and help them recover their ability to read in comfort once more.

MacNN shares some of the promising findings:

Overall, users with moderate vision loss increased their reading speed by 15 words per minute on average. Patients with the poorest vision –– 20/40 or worse in both eyes –– show the most improvement using backlit tablets compared to print. When reading material was set to 18 point font size, iPad users improve their reading speed by at least 42 words per minute.

While backlit screens provide the biggest benefit, the study found that non-backlit e-readers, such as the older Kindle readers, also provided some improvement due to the ability to display larger print, and increase the contrast on the page.

Although any backlit reader provides these benefits, the iPad takes things to an even further level, as the Retina display in 3rd-gen and later models makes the text much sharper and more focused, especially when viewed at larger font sizes.

 The discovery could aid millions of people who have lowered vision because of conditions such as macular degeneration or diabetic retinopathy. In the study, the iPad was found to score the biggest improvement in helping readers regain a high and comfortable reading level.

The research is interesting, and could help lots of people with decreased vision take confort in reading their favorite books – books which perhaps they might otherwise not have been able to read again.

As someone who is visually impaired, I can definitely second this – the Retina iPad had absolutely made me want to read a lot more than I otherwise would. It’s just one more way that technology is improving our lives – and one area where the iPad takes an advantage in accessibility.

What a wonderful, digital world we live in!