Design for Sight: A Typology System for Low-Vision Design Factors: A Typology System for Low-Vision Design Factors

Erin Schambureck, Sharran Parkinson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The functional experience of low vision is impacted by the designed environment. Due to the many permutations of vision loss, there can be no single solution to meet the needs of users in an environment. To identify a course of action when designing for the visually impaired, it is pertinent to first identify and describe the many types of low-vision design. The primary method is a review of expert testimony, medical references, and existing prescriptive standards and guidelines. The purpose is to provide an interpretation of how persons with a variety of vision impairments experience their environment. A typological model is used to organize the findings of this qualitative study. A situational typology of low-vision design is divided into subtypes identified from primary and secondary sources. Four major categories are determined by the overarching design features that created barriers to visual accessibility. These categories are Luminance Contrast, Value Contrast, Luminance Placement, and Object Placement. Within these categories, a total of 14 individual types are further identified that describe the slight variations between design problems within the typology system. These categories and types are defined and supplemented with photographs, luminance analysis, and design recommendations that are not specific to a building type or task. This paper uses typology theory to create a visual rhetoric of low-vision design needs and provides a set of design guidelines for improving interior spaces for the visually impaired.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33-54
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Interior Design
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2018


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