Designing and evaluating a customizable head-mounted vision enhancement system for people with low vision

Yuhang Zhao, Sarit Szpiro, Lei Shi, Shiri Azenkot

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Recent advances in head-mounted displays (HMDs) present an opportunity to design vision enhancement systems for people with low vision, whose vision cannot be corrected with glasses or contact lenses. We aim to understand whether and how HMDs can aid low vision people in their daily lives. We designed ForeSee, an HMD prototype that enhances people's view of the world with image processing techniques such as magnification and edge enhancement. We evaluated these vision enhancements with 20 low vision participants who performed four viewing tasks: image recognition and reading tasks from near- and far-distance. We found that participants needed to combine and adjust the enhancements to comfortably complete the viewing tasks. We then designed two input modes to enable fast and easy customization: speech commands and smartwatchbased gestures. While speech commands are commonly used for eyes-free input, our novel set of onscreen gestures on a smartwatch can be used in scenarios where speech is not appropriate or desired. We evaluated both input modes with 11 low vision participants and found that both modes effectively enabled low vision users to customize their visual experience on the HMD. We distill design insights for HMD applications for low vision and spur new research directions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number15
JournalACM Transactions on Accessible Computing
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported in part by the National Science Foundation under Grant Award No. 1657315 and by a gift from Verizon Media. Authors’ addresses: Y. Zhao, L. Shi, and S. Azenkot, Information Science, Cornell Tech, 2 W Loop Rd, New York, NY 10044; emails: {yz769, ls776, shiri.azenkot}; S. Szpiro, Faculty of Education, University of Haifa, 199 Aba Khoushy Ave. Mount Carmel, Haifa, Israel 3498838; email: Permission to make digital or hard copies of all or part of this work for personal or classroom use is granted without fee provided that copies are not made or distributed for profit or commercial advantage and that copies bear this notice and the full citation on the first page. Copyrights for components of this work owned by others than ACM must be honored. Abstracting with credit is permitted. To copy otherwise, or republish, to post on servers or to redistribute to lists, requires prior specific permission and/or a fee. Request permissions from © 2019 Association for Computing Machinery. 1936-7228/2019/12-ART15 $15.00

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Association for Computing Machinery.


  • Accessibility
  • Head-mounted displays (HMD)
  • Interaction techniques
  • Low vision

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Science Applications


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