Gaming with a visual disability

Having a visual disability doesn’t always mean that someone is totally blind. There are several stages of blindness and lots of different complications. We explain a few definitions.

Blindness
The World Health Organization’s definition of blindness is: less than 3/60 in the better seeing eye. This means that the better seeing eye cannot read the top letter on the Snellen visual acuity chart at three meters. People with vision worse than 20/200 or a field of vision of less than 20 degrees in the better eye are considered ‘legally blind’.

Low vision
Low vision is related to blindness and is often described as visual loss. Standard lenses, medical treatment and/or surgery cannot correct this. Visual loss interferes with daily life activities. It is estimated that about one in every twenty Americans has low vision.

Color blindness
Color blindness is an inability to detect certain colors. It ranges from total color blindness, where the person perceives the world as shades of gray, to more common types where a one cannot distinguish between red and green or yellow and blue. Research shows that one in every twelve persons has some degree of color blindness.

Dropheads 1Dropheads 2Dropheads 3Dropheads 4
Screenshot of Dropheads as seen by gamers with different visual disabilities: regular vision, colorblindness, macular vision and retinitis vision.

Percentage of (potential) gamers with a visual disability
It is estimated that about 3.5% of the population of an average Western country has a visual disability (this includes seniors). Of course, not all of them are playing computer games. There are no statistics on how many people with a visual disability (try to) play computer games. An estimated guess is that about 2.6% of the population of an average Western country has a visual disability and uses a computer. So, the potential target group for the game industry is about 2.6%. In Holland, with a population of about 16.8 million, this means that there are about 440,000 potential gamers with a visual disability.

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