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Navigating the World of Assistive Technologies

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The Emerging Technology for Accessibility Guide

Whether temporary or permanent, when an individual loses their ability to see well, it can impact their overall mobility, safety, and quality of life.  

And on a macro-level, vision loss and blindness impose an annual economic burden of $35.5 billion in the United States due to indirect costs, including absenteeism and reduced work force participation.  

As the health-focused leader in vision care, VSP Vision is constantly monitoring the latest innovations that may improve the quality of life of members with low vision and other accessibility challenges.

Bringing that work to life, the VSP Global Innovation Center recently published the “Emerging Technology for Accessibility” guide, a comprehensive resource for innovators navigating the trends advancing assistive technologies. Included in the guide are multi-sensory devices, tools, models, and services now available to the accessibility community.  

The guide is intended to spark conversation, encourage the use of inclusive design principles, and advance understanding of accessibility, low vision, and the emerging assistive device category. 

Within the guide, the VSP Global Innovation Center introduces three emerging form factors for low vision assistive technology: 

  • Augmented reality (AR)-enabled smart eyewear, which takes a multisensory approach to connect users to the world around them. 
  • AI-powered devices that guide users with object identification and navigation 
  • Consumer device apps that transform smartphones, tablets, and headphones into accessibility tools. 

The guide also spotlights several startups emblematic of where assistive technologies are heading, including: 

  • eSight: an AR headset that enables those with central vision loss or legal blindness to achieve up to 20/20 enhanced vision 
  • OrCam: uses AI computer vision and audio AR to in wearable and handheld formats to communicate visual information out loud to the user 
  • AYES: creator of the OKO app, enables blind and low vision users to cross the road using AI and audio and haptic vibrational AR

"As a founder of an AI-powered visual assistance app, it's been great to see this Guide not only spotlight emerging technologies in the space but offer guidance and design considerations for future innovators pursing assistive tech to follow,” said AYES founder Willem Van de Mierop.  

What new accessibility technology is your company currently working on? Do you have any personal experience with one of the devices featured in the guide? Send a note to the VSP Global Innovation Center here to share your insights.  

The guide is now live and can be downloaded here.

For more news and updates on vision innovation, check out the Global Innovation Center's LinkedIn page.