For low vision specialists and those who consult them
Sony Reader: a missed opportunity for low vision users
June 26, 2009Posted by on
My PhD student and I had a play with a Sony Reader electronic book yesterday to see how useful it could be for low vision users. The answer: not very.
Although it has a text zoom feature, on their supplied ebooks the maximum text size is about 0.7logMAR. Given that you need an acuity reserve of at least 2x to read fluently, this means that you need 0.3logMAR (6/12; 20/40) or better to use it.
Maximum contrast is also poor: peak Michelson contrast is 60% which again means that the contrast reserve will be insufficient for most low vision users.
We did find one workaround to get larger print size (convert a document to PDF in large print, then put that into the Reader) but that’s inelegant.
This is a real missed opportunity for Sony: more zoom, reversed contrast and more control over text presentation would be simple to develop and would really expand the use of the Reader for hundreds of thousands of visually impaired people. Several of my patients have asked about electronic books and whether I would recommend them. Whilst I have yet to show any patients the system to see what they think, I’d be surprised if they end up liking it.
I’ve not yet seen an Amazon Kindle but am in the USA next week and will see if I can look at one. I know that, unlike the Sony system, the Kindle has text-to-speech so it’s at least made some effort to embrace users with poor vision.
Feel free to comment if you have any experience with any of these devices for people with poor vision.