Effectiveness of the Apple iPad as a Spot-reading Magnifier


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Abstract

SIGNIFICANCEThere are no data available comparing the iPad as a portable magnification device with a portable video magnifier. Our study supports the use and integration of mainstream tablet computers into vision rehabilitation to overcome potential barriers to device uptake due to the stigma attached to traditional devices.PURPOSEPortable personal tablet computers have taken on an important role as assistive devices for individuals with visual impairment; however, their use is rarely supported by independent data. Our study aims to contribute to evidence-based practice by comparing a tablet computer with a portable video magnifier in their use as spot-reading devices.METHODSWe compared the Optelec Compact 5 HD portable video magnifier (Optelec, Longueuil, Canada) and the Apple iPad Air tablet computer (Apple Inc, Cupertino, CA) using the SuperVision+ Magnifier app by asking 60 adults with low vision (age range, 19 to 97 years; mean visual acuity, 20/136) to spot read information on a bill, a medication box, and a food label. Their ability to complete each task was timed; they completed the Quebec User Evaluation of Satisfaction with assistive Technology questionnaire and indicated their preferred device.RESULTSPerformance speed indicated that easier tasks were completed faster; however, there were no statistically significant differences in performance between the two device conditions. The highest satisfaction scores for both devices were identical: dimensions, ease of use, and effectiveness. Preference between the two devices was split at 25 for iPad, 33 for the portable closed-circuit television, and 2 for undecided.CONCLUSIONSThe results indicate that performance speed on our spot-reading tasks was comparable across the two devices. In addition, subjective judgment of the device features and personal preferences lead us to conclude that both the iPad and the portable magnifier may have certain equivalence in their functionality, depending on the user and the task for which they are used.

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