How the Austin Assessment works

Learn about how the Austin Assessment works, and what you can do if the results suggest your child might have CVI.

How does the app work?

To complete an assessment, the child needs to play a multi-coloured version of the game and a single-coloured version. Both start at a basic level and increase in complexity, starting with four cards and gradually moving up to 12. The way a child with CVI looks at things is different from the way a child with typical vision does. The Austin Assessment app identifies those differences.

The differences include:

  • darting eye movements
  • taking longer to match the cards as more cards are added
  • becoming less accurate as more cards are added
  • being easily distracted
  • increasing levels of frustration and/or anxiety as the game becomes more complex.

These differences indicate:

  • impaired search performance, meaning it is more difficult to find the pairs
  • difficulties with visually guided movements, because they need to put their fingers on the cards to move them to the matching card.

The app has been tested on over 900 children aged between:

  • 5 and 8 years
  • 9 and 12 years
  • 13 and 18 years.

This research gave us the ranges of typical children, called a normal (or normative) range.

The app measures three variables:

  • The overall time taken to complete each round of the assessment
  • The accuracy in matching the pairs at each level in each round
  • The dwell time, the time taken to match the first pair at each level in each round

When the child plays the game on the app, their performance is compared over the three variables to children in their age group. Each variable has a threshold for when a child’s performance is determined as being outside the normal range for their age group. If it is outside the normal range, they may have a form of CVI. Over the two rounds, there are a total of 6 thresholds. A child only needs to meet one threshold for further assessment to be recommended. This will be shown on the results page at the completion of the assessment by either an asterix (indicating the threshold has been met) or a tick (indicating the performance was within the normal range for their age).    

For children whose report includes one or more asterix, you can download a report of their performance. This can also be shared with anyone who needs to see it, i.e. teacher, therapists or clinician. 

This process is described in more detail in the Austin Assessment validation research. 

See the full list of Austin Assessment research and references

The app also measures the eye movements of the child as they are completing the assessment. An image of this is shown on the result page for level one and five of each round. This image helps to understand the visual movements of a child while completing the assessment, but there is currently no threshold associated with this variable.


What can you do if the results suggest your child might have CVI? 

The Austin Assessment is a screening tool, not a diagnostic tool. If the result is positive (meaning they have met at least one threshold out of the six), it means there is a possibility the child may have a form of CVI.  To confirm CVI, a diagnosis from a skilled medical professional is required. 

CVI is a medical condition. Different regions and countries have different ways of doing things, but commonly, to get a diagnosis either a family doctor or paediatrician makes a referral to a vision specialist. 

On the app there is an option to send or print the individual child’s report, and this will have information for the vision specialist on what specific visual issues the child may have to help direct further assessment to determine the nature of the child’s visual issues. Getting a diagnosis of CVI can be difficult, and this is an issue all over the world. Even today, many medical professionals have not heard of CVI, and systems may not have been set up to assess, diagnose, manage, and support children with CVI. You might find it difficult to get an appointment for a CVI diagnosis, and even if you do, you might still not get a diagnosis. Please see the results page for further information on this.

A tablet with the Austin Assessment app opened. The main menu shows Play, Scores, Results, and Options buttons.

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