Technology-Mediated Sight: A Case Study of Early Adopters of a Low Vision Assistive Technology

Annuska Zolyomi, Anushree Shukla, and Jaime Snyder


University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA


A case study of early adopters of a head-mounted assistive device for low vision provides the basis for a sociotechnical analysis of technology-mediated sight. Our research complements recent work in HCI focused on designing, building, and evaluating the performance of assistive devices for low vision by highlighting psychosocial and adaptive aspects of digitally enhanced vision. Through a series of semi-structured interviews with users of the eSight 2.0 device and customer-facing employees of the eSight company, we sought to better understand the social and emotional impacts associated with adoption of this type of low-vision assistive technology. Four analytic themes emerged from our interviews: 1) assessing the value of assistive technology in real life, 2) negotiating social engagement, 3) boundaries of sight, and 4) attitudes toward and expectations of technology. We introduce the concept of multiplicities of vision to describe technology-mediated sight as being a form of skilled vision and neither fully-human nor fully-digital, but rather, assembled through a combination of social and technical affordances. We propose that instead of seeing low-vision users through a deficit model of sight, HCI designers have more to gain by viewing people with low vision as individuals with a distinct type of skilled vision that is both socially and technologically mediated.

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