Designing Visually Accessible Spaces (DeVAS)


Principal consultant, Rob Shakespeare, served as a researcher  for 11 years on the NIH grant “Designing Visually Accessible Spaces (DeVAS).” This project focused on developing tools for the architectural professionals to design spaces that are accessible for people with low vision.

Images show visibility assessment of environment (darker image) and optimized lighting for low-vision navigation (lighter image). Red and green contours indicate where software predicts which environmental elements are visible for a low-vision person at current light levels.

The Hazard Visibility Score (HVS) in some of the image is an automated metric indicating the visibility of edges within a region of interest, where 1.0 is clearly visible ranging to 0.0 which is predicted not visible.

In images of stairs, the stairs are the region of interest. By modifying material properties or lighting, visibility is iteratively improved.

Low Vision Types

MILD low vision 20/40 acuity, Pelli-Robson score 1.48

MODERATE low vision: 20/115 acuity, Pelli-Robson score 1.20

SEVERE low vision: 20/285 acuity, Pelli-Robson score 0.90

PROFOUND low vision: 20/710 acuity, Pelli-Robson score 0.6



The Science

Thompson, William B, Gordon E Legge, Daniel J Kersten, Robert A Shakespeare, and Quan Lei. “Simulating Visibility under Reduced Acuity and Contrast Sensitivity.” Journal of the Optical Society of America. A, Optics, Image Science, and Vision 34, no. 4 (2017): 583-93.

The Application

William B. Thompson, Robert A. Shakespeare, Siyun Liu, Sarah H. Creem-Regehr, Daniel J. Kersten & Gordon E. Legge (2021) Evaluating the Visibility of Architectural Features for People with Low Vision – A Quantitative Approach, LEUKOS, DOI: 10.1080/15502724.2021.1890115

Extended Validation paper 

(under review) Validating a Model of Architectural Visibility with Low-Vision Observers, Plos One Journal.



Project details

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