Evaluating the Visibility of Architectural Features for People with Low Vision–A Quantitative Approach

William B. Thompson, Robert A. Shakespeare, Siyun Liu, Sarah H. Creem-Regehr, Daniel J. Kersten, Gordon E. Legge

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Most people with low vision rely on their remaining functional vision for mobility. Our goal is to provide tools to help design architectural spaces in which safe and effective mobility is possible by those with low vision–spaces that we refer to as visually accessible. We describe an approach that starts with a 3D CAD model of a planned space and produces labeled images indicating whether or not structures that are potential mobility hazards are visible at a particular level of low vision. There are two main parts to the analysis. The first, previously described, represents low-vision status by filtering a calibrated luminance image generated from the CAD model and associated lighting and materials information to produce a new image with unseen detail removed. The second part, described in this paper, uses both these filtered images and information about the geometry of the space obtained from the CAD model and related lighting and surface material specifications to produce a quantitative estimate of the likelihood of particular hazards being visible. We provide examples of the workflow required, a discussion of the novelty and implications of the approach, and a short discussion of needed future work.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)154-172
Number of pages19
JournalLEUKOS - Journal of Illuminating Engineering Society of North America
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 28 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, National Eye Institute BRP grant 2 R01 EY017835-06A1. All of the authors received support from this grant. Lighthouse Central Florida provided site access to photograph the new stairwell and facilitated the assistance of Pete Hall, Associate AIA, WELL AP, the project architect who created the REVIT model. Greg Ward provided help with Radiance issues. Yichen Liu and Rachel Gage provided assistance with testing of human subjects.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Illuminating Engineering Society of North America.


  • Low vision
  • accessibility
  • architecture
  • lighting
  • mobility
  • universal design
  • visual acuity


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