New iPad app for people with sight loss needs backing from publishers (w/ Video)

Feb 18, 2013

(Phys.org)—Scientists from Royal Holloway are launching a new iPad app to help people with macular disease, the most common cause of sight loss in the UK.

People affected by the condition, who include Dame Judi Dench and Last of the Summer Wine actor Peter Sallis, find it difficult to read normally, having lost their central vision. However, they can make use of their peripheral vision using a simple technique called eccentric viewing.

The new app, MD_evReader, is designed to enhance the eccentric viewing technique for reading eBooks. It enables users to scroll text from any ePub document in a single stream, like a news 'ticker'. The text is presented into the reader's best point of eccentric vision and helps them to maintain a 'steady eye'. The speed in which the text appears can be changed using a simple trackpad according to the reader's needs. The app also allows users to make changes to background and text colour, and allows content to be displayed on digital television screens, enabling very large font sizes to be used.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.

However, the success of the app relies on the cooperation of , who often use Digital Rights Management (DRM) systems to lock publications and prevent unauthorised copying. In effect these prevent the MD_evReader, and other accessibility software, from unlocking the publication and displaying content in the best way for users. This restricts the range of books that can be used with the app, to copyright free volumes and those whose publishers have relaxed their DRM systems.

Professor Robin Walker from the Department of Psychology at Royal Holloway said: "DRM is a major limitation. Of course we recognise the rights of manufacturers, authors and publishers to maintain their intellectual property, but we would urge them to consider using lightweight DRM systems which would allow the MD_evReader to be used.

"People with low vision caused by macular disease, experience extreme difficulty with everyday tasks such as reading, which severely affects their quality of life. Volunteers who have been involved in testing the app have largely reported that the experience of reading was greatly improved with this system."

Helen Jackman, Chief Executive of the Macular Society, said: "This represents an excellent opportunity to help people affected by macular disease to read more easily. However, for it to be able to reach its full potential we need publishers to stop using DRM in a way that compromises accessibility.

"Some publishers, including the Harry Potter books' Pottermore, have stopped using DRM and reported no adverse commercial affect. We now need other publishers to follow suit so that those affected by sight loss have the same access to literature as everyone else."

Explore further: Technology to help people with disabilities to learn and communicate

Related Stories

AOL launches personalized magazine app for iPad

Aug 02, 2011

(AP) -- AOL is trying to snatch a larger portion of the tablet computer audience by launching free iPad software that presents a customized, daily e-magazine that draws in content from all over the Web.

E-books need a common language

Feb 17, 2010

I never need to worry about whether I can read a book. As long as a book's a book, that is -- printed on paper, in English. I know I can pick it up and read it no matter how long it sits on my shelf after ...

Wal-Mart and Amazon go around Apple App Store

Aug 10, 2011

(AP) -- Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. on Wednesday revealed new video and book-reading services that are designed for the iPad but bypass Apple Inc.'s fees on content sales.

New free font available to help those with dyslexia

Oct 01, 2012

(Medical Xpress)—A new font tailored for people afflicted with dyslexia is now available for use on mobile devices, thanks to a design by Abelardo Gonzalez, a mobile app designer from New Hampshire. Gonzalez, ...

Harry Potter breaks e-book lockdown

Mar 27, 2012

(AP) -- The Harry Potter books are finally on sale in electronic form, and they have a special magical touch to them: In a break with industry practices, the books aren't locked down by encryption, which means consumers ...

Recommended for you

BPG image format judged awesome versus JPEG

Dec 17, 2014

If these three letters could talk, BPG, they would say something like "Farewell, JPEG." Better Portable Graphics (BPG) is a new image format based on HEVC and supported by browsers with a small Javascript ...

Atari's 'E.T.' game joins Smithsonian collection

Dec 15, 2014

One of the "E.T." Atari game cartridges unearthed this year from a heap of garbage buried deep in the New Mexico desert has been added to the video game history collection at the Smithsonian.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.