Technology is really amazing, isn’t it? Most of us are able to freely use it on a regular basis without the wink of an eye because it’s just second nature. Unfortunately, the same technology the majority of us are able to use freely, often times isn’t created with people that have disabilities like deafness or blindness in mind. Over the years things have slowly gotten more accessible for them thanks to assistive technology but there are still some people who are “left out.”
One man, John LeSieur felt as though his six year old grandson wasn’t able to take advantage of computers because he is autistic. Without going into too much detail, Autism is a brain development disorder that impairs communication, social interactions with others, and more. it’s considered a spectrum disorder meaning that there’s a range of impairments and some people are considered low-functioning while others are high-functioning. No one person with autism is going to function exactly the same as another which can make things tricky. LeSieur set-out to simplify the experience of using a computer for his grandson and felt one way he could do this was to create a web browser.
This new browser is called “The Zac Browser” in honor of his grandson and it’s free to anybody. Because as we mentioned, not all Autistic children are the same, not everybody will benefit, but a lot will. Here’s what he did with the browser:
- Hand-picked sites that could be visited and enjoyed by autistic children and included some that were educational, others that were visually stimulating, and some that had appropriate music and videos
- To keep children from getting overwhelmed with multiple buttons and keys to press, keys that wouldn’t be necessary to a child like “print Screen” are disabled, the right-click mouse button is also disabled he says doing this “eliminates commands most children don’t need anyway, and it reduces the chance an autistic child will lose confidence after making a counterproductive click
- Icons are much larger than normal and large symbols are used like a soccer ball to signify games or books to signify stories
- No advertisements or flashing distractions appear which could cause the child to lose focus
Essentially what LeSieur did was limit the distractions an autistic child will come across as much as possible so that they won’t get frustrated, and it gives them the opportunity to be independent. As we mentioned, it’s not going to be the perfect solution for every autistic child out there, but it will probably help many.
The Zac Browser is an interesting concept, isn’t it? Assistive technology is so expensive and in some situations, simply creating a customized web browser could be of tremendous help to those with disabilities. Perhaps this will be the start of a new trend and we’ll see more customized browsers out there that cater to different groups of people?
Source: AP via Yahoo
Checkout the Zac Browser – it’s free!
Thanks for the tip Kiltboy!