Today on Indians are Basically the Best, two 18-year olds from Delhi made an app that helps visually impaired and dyslexic people view web pages more easily.
And they did it in just two nights.
Why Web Pages Can Be Hard to Read
People who are living with dyslexia or visual impairment like hypermetropia, and senior citizens have difficulty reading standard web pages.
With dyslexia, reading small black text off a white background is extremely difficult. For people with visual impairment, the presence of distracting ads and extraneous content on the screen makes it hard to focus.
And for people in all these categories, being able to zoom into text, or have it read out loud, can help immensely.
How the App Helps
Nishant Gadihoke and Anand Chowdary built the app—called Oswald—when they were taking part in the Delhi AngelHack Hackathon.
Anand told Scoopwhoop, "I realised that many of us, designers and developers, never account for the 15% of the population with disabilities. Our websites and apps don't have features to allow people with learning disorders or visual impairment on how to use them. When Nishant and I participated in AngelHack, the largest hackathon competition, we decided to build an app to solve this problem."
For people with visual impairment, the app can go into reading mode with the press of a key, and the entire content of the page is read out loud.
Using an algorithm that detects relevant content, the app removes ads and any content that’s not of importance, even the navigation bar.
Font size can also be changed, after which Oswald will intuitively alter the font spacing and line height for every web page that’s opened.
For people with dyslexia, the app converts text into a dyslexic-friendly font called OpenDyslexic, and puts the black text on a bright yellow background. Nishant and Anand went through research by the British Dyslexia Association and W3C to find out that this particular format is easiest to read.
The app also makes the format of a web page completely customisable, so users can change the colours, fonts, and contrast ratios based on what’s best for them. There’s also a high-contrast mode, that regular users can switch to if they find it more comfortable to read.
Unsurprisingly, the duo won an award at AngelHack. And to add to the list of things that make them possibly the coolest 18-year olds in India, Nishant and Anand have been designing websites for years, and are now convincing their old clients to make their sites more accessible to people with disabilities.
What were you doing when you were in high school?
Right now, the app works on all web browsers that can run extensions from the Chrome Web Store. And it’s coming to Android and iOS soon.