City Research Online

What do individuals with visual impairment need and want from a dialogue-based digital assistant?

Taylor, J. J., Subramanian, A. ORCID: 0000-0001-8104-5312, Freitas, A. , Ferreira, D. M. & Dickinson, C. M. (2023). What do individuals with visual impairment need and want from a dialogue-based digital assistant?. Clinical and Experimental Optometry, 106(6), pp. 656-665. doi: 10.1080/08164622.2022.2159791


Clinical Significance
Optometrists are well-placed to provide helpful advice and guidance to patients with visual impairment but may not know how best to do this. The availability of a reliable and comprehensive conversational agent to which patients could be directed would be a valuable supplement to clinical intervention.

The Artificial Intelligence in Visual Impairment (AIVI) Study is a proof-of-concept study to investigate whether ongoing information support for people with visual impairment (VI) can be provided by a dialogue-based digital assistant. The phase of the AIVI Study reported here explored the different dimensions of the information-seeking behaviour of individuals with VI: in particular, their need for information, the methods for obtaining it at present, and their views on the use of a digital assistant.

Qualitative data were collected from 120 UK-resident adults who responded to an online survey who were either visually impaired (86.7%), a carer or family member of someone with VI (5.8%), or a professional involved in the support of those with VI (7.5%). In addition, 10 in-depth 1:1 semi-structured interviews explored opinions in more detail. Thematic analysis was used to analyse the findings.

Analysis of information needs identified 7 major themes: ocular condition; equipment, technology and adaptations; daily activities; registration; finance/employment; emotional support; and support for the carer. Participants used a wide variety of methods to access information from many sources and explained the barriers to access. Participants accepted the merit of a dialogue system aiding in a goal-directed search for specific information, but expressed reservations about its abilities in other areas, such as providing emotional support.

Participants highlighted potential benefits, limitations, and requirements in using a digital assistant to access information about VI. These findings will inform the design of dialogue systems for populations with VI.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Clinical and Experimental Optometry on 29 Jan 2023, available at:
Publisher Keywords: Artificial intelligence, conversational agent, digital assistant, information needs, virtual assistant, visual impairment
Subjects: R Medicine > RE Ophthalmology
T Technology > T Technology (General)
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Optometry & Visual Sciences
SWORD Depositor:
[thumbnail of AIVI-Study-Paper Phase 1 Accepted version.pdf]
Text - Accepted Version
Download (303kB) | Preview
[thumbnail of Supplement.pdf] Text - Supplemental Material
This document is not freely accessible due to copyright restrictions.

To request a copy, please use the button below.

Request a copy


Add to AnyAdd to TwitterAdd to FacebookAdd to LinkedinAdd to PinterestAdd to Email


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics

Actions (login required)

Admin Login Admin Login