Personal Health Data Tracking by Blind and Low-Vision People: Survey Study

Jarrett G.W. Lee, Kyungyeon Lee, Bongshin Lee, Soyoung Choi, Joo Young Seo, Eun Kyoung Choe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Personal health technologies, including wearable tracking devices and mobile apps, have great potential to equip the general population with the ability to monitor and manage their health. However, being designed for sighted people, much of their functionality is largely inaccessible to the blind and low-vision (BLV) population, threatening the equitable access to personal health data (PHD) and health care services. Objective: This study aims to understand why and how BLV people collect and use their PHD and the obstacles they face in doing so. Such knowledge can inform accessibility researchers and technology companies of the unique self-tracking needs and accessibility challenges that BLV people experience. Methods: We conducted a web-based and phone survey with 156 BLV people. We reported on quantitative and qualitative findings regarding their PHD tracking practices, needs, accessibility barriers, and work-arounds. Results: BLV respondents had strong desires and needs to track PHD, and many of them were already tracking their data despite many hurdles. Popular tracking items (ie, exercise, weight, sleep, and food) and the reasons for tracking were similar to those of sighted people. BLV people, however, face many accessibility challenges throughout all phases of self-tracking, from identifying tracking tools to reviewing data. The main barriers our respondents experienced included suboptimal tracking experiences and insufficient benefits against the extended burden for BLV people. Conclusions: We reported the findings that contribute to an in-depth understanding of BLV people’s motivations for PHD tracking, tracking practices, challenges, and work-arounds. Our findings suggest that various accessibility challenges hinder BLV individuals from effectively gaining the benefits of self-tracking technologies. On the basis of the findings, we discussed design opportunities and research areas to focus on making PHD tracking technologies accessible for all, including BLV people.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere43917
JournalJournal of medical Internet research
StatePublished - 2023


  • blind and low vision
  • consumer health information
  • mobile phone
  • personal health data
  • self-tracking
  • survey

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics


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