Special Needs Technology Devised By Teens: Web Reading App For People With Dyslexia, Learning Disabilities And Visual Impairments

By Elizabeth Anderson, Parent Herald August 04, 04:40 am

A web reading app specially designed for people with dyslexia, learning disabilities, visual impairment and even senior citizens has been developed by two Indian teenagers. The app, called Oswald, allows users to customize how web pages will look in their browser. It can be downloaded for free in the Chrome web store.

Oswald was created by 18-year-old Anand Chowdhary and 15-year-old Nishant Gadihoke in June. Chowdhary had the initial idea, which he shared do Gadihoke and they developed Oswald during the Delhi AngelHack Hackathon for its Code 4 Impact Challenge. The original idea, as they relayed in an interview with AngelHack, was to develop an app for dyslexics alone.

Chowdary told Better India that he had been making good websites, but failed to consider people with disabilities and senior citizens who had trouble reading online. "However, it is not practical to add accessibility features on every website individually. So I came up with the idea of developing a Chrome extension that would help everyone access content on the web," added Chowdhary.

The Huffington Post reported that when users open the web reading app, colors recommended by the World Wide Web Consortium and the British Dyslexia Association would pop up and the user can choose preferences. Selected preferences would "automatically theme" websites that the users visits and font size, spacing and other text properties can also be changed to suit the user.

The report said that the Oswald app was founded on a 2012 study by Luz Rello and Ricardo Baeza-Yates for the World Wide Web Consortium Accessibility Initiative. "Their research analysed how a specific aspect of text customisation, text and background colours can improve readability of people with dyslexia," said Chowdhary. Oswald's options for text and background colors are based on the study.

According to the Oswald's website, it can help visually impaired people by a mere press of a button. It can read out a webpage's relevant content in the user's preferred language. For senior citizens, there is Oswald's Reading Mode and this "removes all unnecessary links, ads, and popups, and presents the relevant content in a beautiful readable format."

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