What is it about?

Most assistive devices are designed with the one impairment in mind that they are intended to address. Devices for hearing loss, for example, are often built to be inconspicuous; however, this does not help a device user who also has a visual impairment. Given the reality of older adults who are often dealing with more than one health condition, we decided to examine how low vision affects the use and usability of assistive hearing devices.

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Why is it important?

With age, the likelihood of having more than one chronic health condition increases. One effective and popular method to rehabilitate conditions such as vision and hearing loss is the use of assistive devices and technologies. However, device use for individuals with multiple co-morbidities is often complicated because the interaction of two or more impairments can interfere with the usability of the device - a topic that has received little attention but that will become more pressing as the population is aging and living longer.


The field of sensory rehabilitation research is starting to integrate multiple chronic health conditions more and more, thereby reflecting the reality of our clients in a much more realistic way. This project was one of the first in our research lab that examined assistive device use among the deafblind population, and we continue to study other aspects of this problematic.

Dr Walter Wittich
Universite de Montreal

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Usability of assistive listening devices by older adults with low vision, Disability and Rehabilitation Assistive Technology, May 2015, Taylor & Francis,
DOI: 10.3109/17483107.2015.1042076.
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