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Project Low Vision Simulator

Anyone can test the accessibility of a building or street for partially sighted people. The Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (Dutch: TNO) has collaborated with Visio in developing unique software: the Low Vision simulator. It indicates precisely which image elements a partially sighted person can observe or not observe.

The simulator consists of software that reads photos and random situations. Subsequently, the simulator calculates which image elements are visible to a person who is partially sighted. The simulator is exceptional in showing the precise visual function limitations. The software for the Low Vision simulator can be downloaded from this page.

Testing accessibility

The Low Vision simulator is an important tool for testing existing situations with respect to accessibility for partially sighted people. Take for example accessibility in a train station or work area. With this simulator, TNO and Visio focus mainly on designers of public areas and buildings. But the simulator can also be deployed by the direct environment of a partially sighted person, such as family, colleagues or caregivers. An understanding of a person’s visual limitations can contribute to a better understanding of his or her possibilities.

How does the simulator work?

The simulator can read any pictures that you choose. For example, you can choose a picture that has to show what is visible for a partially sighted person. Subsequently, you enter the data about the visual field, vision and light dispersion. You can use the data from a visual function examination or select a number of pre-defined ‘standard’ limitations. The software does not simulate any specific eye disorder, but rather limitations in visual functions. Based on the limitations, the simulator calculates which image information the partially sighted person can see and shows this on the photo. It is also possible to connect a special eye-movement registration device (such as the EyeLink) to the simulator. This helps clarify whether scotomas (the areas in the visual field in which one sees poorly) move along with the direction in which one looks. Many other simulation tools (software or eyeglasses) do not have this option.

Reliability of the simulator

In contrast to various other existing software programmes, TNO uses validated and scientific models about visual acuity, contrast observation, field of vision and light dispersion. This makes it possible to carry out precise calculations based on photos of different situations.