BACKGROUND: People with low vision complain of difficulty operating controls on electronic appliances and equipment which suggests that the readability of controls and their labels is below their ability. OBJECTIVE: To investigate whether electronic appliances available today are designed with controls of sufficient size (at least 6/18 Snellen VA) and contrast (at least 30%) to facilitate identification and use by people with low vision. METHODS: Controls and labels of electronic appliances for sale in retail stores in Singapore (January, February 2012) and a sample of domestic appliances in Sydney, Australia (October, November of 2011) were evaluated in terms of high- and low- importance in function, size and contrast (luminance and colour difference). RESULTS: Labels and controls of 96 electronic appliances were evaluated. All controls were of sufficient size but 22% (26/117) of high- and 27% (12/44) of low-importance controls measured had insufficient luminance contrast. 79% (152/192) of high- and 46% (24/52) of low-importance labels were of insufficient size. 17% (26/160) of the high- and 0.03% (1/33) of low-importance labels had insufficient luminance contrast. CONCLUSIONS: Most controls and labels of recently available electronic appliances can cause problems for operability in people with low vision.