Low Vision Reading and Typeface Variables

This is a consortium between SUNY and UMASS-Boston funded by the National Eye Institute of the National Institutes of Health from 4/1/98 to2/11/02.

Dean Yager, Distinguished Professor of Vision Science, SUNY College of Optometry, Principal Investigator

Robert A. Morris, Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science, UMASS-Boston, Consortium Investigator.

Kathy L. Aquilante, OD, Clinical Assistant Professor, SUNY College of Optometry, Associate Investigator.

At UMASS we develop and maintain the software  that operates computerized data gathering for experiments and potentially provides a reading aid for low vision readers. We take some data with subjects of normal vision, and the data with low vision readers is gathered at the SUNY College of Optometry, where the experimental protocols are designed. A list of the project's publications is here.

From the NIH proposal Specific Aims:

1. We will test the effect of several typographic and visual factors on reading which have not been previously studied. The choice of parameter values of typefaces to be tested will be guided initially by available empirical and theoretical work concerned with letter detection and discriminability. The aim is to determine whic typeface characteristics may enable faster reading than others on Vdeo Display Terminals (VDT;s, and which will allow satisfactory reading speeds with the smallest character size.

2. Three VDT reading methods will be evaluated for relative reading speed, comprehension, and subject acceptance. RSVP: words are presented sequentially at a fixed screen location. PAGE: a full screen of text is presented at one time. SCROLL: Text scrolls continuously right to left across the screen. Two variants of PAGE will also be evaluated in the same way: FLASHCARD, in which once sentence at a time is presented  in a single line, and MNREAD, in which one sentence at a time is presented in four lines.

3. In subjects with normal vision, we will simulate a variety of conditions that are characteristic of low vision patients. The aim is to determine which typographic variants best survive the simulated degradations, with each reading method, and to suggest conditions in which to test low vision patients.

4. In subjects with two different low vision conditions, macular degeneration with central field loss (CFL) and nystagmus, we will determine if any advantages of the typeface variations and reading methods studied in Aims1-3 are present in such readers. The aim is to provide guidance to low vision patients and practitioners in the selection of reading methods and text characteristics to use for vision rehabilitation.

5. In both normal and low vision subjects, we will investigage the feasibility for people to read quickly and effectively with RSVP text, for extended passages and periods of time. The aim is to determine if these methods may be of practical use for routine reading.