The classic line when discussing a disability is that you just can’t understand it without going through it. Over the years this has led to a number of attempts to simulate disabilities and medical conditions with everything from tied together limbs to blindfolds.

Last week Eelke Folmer a Associate Professor of Human Computer Interaction at the University of Nevada launched an app called SimViz that simulates visual impairments. The app is an evolution of an Occulus Rift system and uses a Google Cardboard VR viewer as an Augmented reality device letting  the user see as if they had a specific impairment. It covers cataracts, macular degeneration, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, floaters and 3 types of color blindness. Folmoer published a paper on the Rift system which makes very interesting reading if you want to go deeper on the topic.

To try it you need a Google Cardboard viewer like this one and a mid range or higher Android phone. Run the free app and wear the Cardboard and everything looks as if you had the impairment.  Many Cardboard’s do not have a hole for your phone’s camera but two careful minutes of cutting can fix that. SimViz is a quick, simple and cheap solution to the problem and is great at giving you an idea of what the impairment means for those who have it is great for quick accessibility assessments.


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