Mobile assistive technologies for the visually impaired

Lilit Hakobyan*, Jo Lumsden, Dympna O'Sullivan, Hannah Bartlett

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


There are around 285 million visually impaired people worldwide, and around 370,000 people are registered as blind or partially sighted in the UK. Ongoing advances in information technology (IT) are increasing the scope for IT-based mobile assistive technologies to facilitate the independence, safety, and improved quality of life of the visually impaired. Research is being directed at making mobile phones and other handheld devices accessible via our haptic (touch) and audio sensory channels. We review research and innovation within the field of mobile assistive technology for the visually impaired and, in so doing, highlight the need for successful collaboration between clinical expertise, computer science, and domain users to realize fully the potential benefits of such technologies. We initially reflect on research that has been conducted to make mobile phones more accessible to people with vision loss. We then discuss innovative assistive applications designed for the visually impaired that are either delivered via mainstream devices and can be used while in motion (e.g., mobile phones) or are embedded within an environment that may be in motion (e.g., public transport) or within which the user may be in motion (e.g., smart homes).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)513-528
Number of pages16
JournalSurvey of ophthalmology
Issue number6
Early online date23 Sept 2013
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2013

Bibliographical note

NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Survey of ophthalmology. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Hakobyan, L, Lumsden, J, O'Sullivan, D & Bartlett, H, 'Mobile assistive technologies for the visually impaired' Survey of ophthalmology, vol. 58, no. 6 (2013) DOI


  • blind
  • handheld assistive technology
  • IT systems
  • low vision
  • mobile assistive technology
  • mobile computer devices
  • mobile technology
  • vision loss
  • visual impairment


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