Psychophysics of Reading. XVII. Low-Vision Performance with Four Types of Electronically Magnified Text

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Most people with low vision need magnification to read. Page navigation is the process of moving a magnifier during reading. Modern electronic technology can provide many alternatives for navigating through text. This study compared reading speeds for four methods of displaying text. The four methods varied in their page-navigation demands. The closed-circuit television (CCTV) and MOUSE methods involved manual navigation. The DRIFT method (horizontally drifting text) involved no manual navigation, but did involve both smooth-pursuit and saccadic eye movements. The rapid serial visual presentation (RSVP) method involved no manual navigation, and relatively few eye movements. There were 7 normal subjects and 12 low-vision subjects (7 with central-field loss, CFL group, and 5 with central fields intact, CFI group). The subjects read 70-word passages at speeds that yielded good comprehension. Taking the CCTV reading speed as a benchmark, neither the normal nor low-vision subjects had significantly different speeds with the MOUSE method. As expected from the reduced navigational demands, normal subjects read faster with the DRIFT method (85% faster) and the RSVP method (169%). The CFI group read significantly faster with DRIFT (43%) and RSVP (38%). The CFL group showed no significant differences in reading speed for the four methods.

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