Office of Technology Transfer – University of Michigan

Big Easy Reader

Technology #6387

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Researchers
Anjali Shah
Managed By
Drew Bennett
Associate Director - Software Licensing 734-615-4004

People that live with low vision are individuals whose vision cannot be fully corrected and who have a level of vision worse than 20/70. In 2010, the prevalence rate for vision impairment of adults in the United States aged 40 years and older was 3%, representing 4.2 million people. It is projected that by 2050 this number will be 13 million people. People with mild to moderate visual impairment face three main challenges when reading: font size, low contrast between text and background, and the need to follow a line. When reading text in a line, our eyes spend 20% of reading time processing content. The rest of the time is spent moving the eyes from word to word and searching for the optimal recognition point (ORP) of each word, which allows the brain to process its meaning.

Typically, individuals with low vision use magnifying aids and illumination to read printed material, so as to increase the size of text and increase the contrast between text and background. As digital content becomes more ubiquitous, it becomes necessary to develop accessibility tools that enable people with low vision to read text in smart connected devices. Many smartphones and e-book readers already allow users to customize reading settings by changing font size and contrast between text and background, or by allowing users to zoom-in to read small text. However, the need to follow a line is still part of the digital reading experience, making it difficult for users with low vision to read content on these devices.

Spritz-powered reading technology for low vision patients

Spritz technology presents users with one word at a time (at a configurable words per minute count) while keeping the ORP of each word at a constant position. This technology is amenable to low vision readers due to the minimization of eye movement. The Big Easy Reader helps people with low vision to read by using Spritz technology, presenting words individually, while also allowing users to adjust the font size and contrast between text and background.

Applications

  • Technology can be incorporated into different software and operating systems
  • Tool can be used by the visually impaired to read with more ease and efficiency

Advantages

  • Allows people with mild to moderate vision impairment to read comfortably
  • Minimizes eye movements while reading
  • Adjustable font size and contrast between background and text