Training in the use of smartphones and tablets to improve quality of life in visual impairment

Research details

  • Type of funding: Project Grant
  • Grant Holder: Professor Chris Dickinson
  • Institute: University of Manchester
  • Region: North West
  • Start date: October 2017
  • End Date: October 2021
  • Priority: Quality of Life
  • Eye Category: Other


Mobile electronic devices (MED) including, smartphones and tablets, offer a new type of assistive technology for visually-impaired people (VIP). They offer the possibility to replace optical magnifiers for those with mild impairment, and braille or auditory for those with severe visual loss, using standard consumer devices, which are relatively cheap and convenient. However not all VIP and rehabilitation professionals are familiar with the devices and their potential.

This study aims to determine current usage of MED by VI users; how information about them is disseminated; and reasons for non-use (barriers to usage).

Researchers aim to determine the format of training courses designed for VI users to learn how to use MED. They will evaluate the effectiveness of two different models of training in giving the user on-going access and improved quality of life. They will therefore compare the standard “training course only” model to a scheme in which each participant is paired with a “buddy” (a university student) who can provide continuing support by visiting the VIP regularly at home.

This study will show whether, and how MED can best be made accessible to the majority of VI users.