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Durham University

School of Education

Staff Profile

Publication details for Prof Carole Torgerson

Hewett, R., Torgerson, C. & Douglas, G. (2014). Accessibility of Apple iPad for partially sighted users: pilot study. Journal of Assistive Technologies 8(1): 2-13.

Author(s) from Durham

Abstract

Purpose
– The purpose of this paper is to present the results of a pilot trial, investigating the accessibility provided by a tablet computer (Apple iPad) to individuals with visual impairment. The study was designed around an N-of-1 randomised controlled trial (RCT), which was replicated for 12 participants. It served as an opportunity to evaluate the use N-of-1 trials in studies involving people who are visually impaired.

Design/methodology/approach
– The study centred round an N-of-1 RCT, comparing the accessibility provided by control equipment (Windows computer) against the intervention equipment (Apple iPad). Twelve participants conducted six tests on the equipment as per randomisation, followed by a quantitative-based evaluation and short interviews.

Findings
– One-sided individual randomisation tests showed a significant result for overall satisfaction in favour of the tablet at the 0.05 significance level for seven of the participants. Participants identified several strengths of the iPad in helping a partially sighted user in accessing the internet: inbuilt zoom and magnification options; increased control as a result of the touch screen; and accessibility tools being built into the operating system. The main limitation suggested was the way the zoom function operates by enlarging the onscreen keyboard. This caused difficulties for those with more severe visual impairments using this function in inputting text.

Originality/value
– There has been limited research to substantiate positive reviews of the tablet computer for low-vision users. The results of this pilot study gives evidence in support of these potential benefits, and demonstrates the importance of a more thorough investigation.