Designing UI for visually impaired users is quite a challenge – how do you put yourself in someone else’s shoes to get a sense of what they do (or don’t) see?

Digital Lens is a little app created by the Microsoft Israel R&D Center. By emulating common impaired vision conditions, it helps users identify issues in the UI and fix them before the site goes live or software is released.

Digital Lens currently supports the following filters:

  • Green-Red – Simulates green & red colour blindness

  • Yellow-Blue - Simulates yellow & blue colour blindness
  • Black-White – Simulates full colour blindness

  • Blur  - Simulates blurry vision
  • Dazzle – Simulates glare

The following images demonstrate how Digital Lens works. In the images, the results of a Bing™ search for “Ishihara Color Test” images are shown and demonstrate how they appear when a Digital Lens filter is applied.

No filter applied:

Applying Digital Lens Black-White emulator:

Applying Digital Lens Red-Green colour blindness emulator:

Applying Digital Lens Yellow-Blue colour blindness emulator:

 

Limitations

It’s in Technical Preview, so it’s not a perfect app. There are some known issues (only for Windows 7 32bit at present, may make your display blurry – but then you fix it with Windows Key + Alt + D)

If you’re keen to give it a try, download here. You can also submit feedback or report issues to the team at http://ilabs.microsoft.com