A Web Browser Custom Made for the Autistic User

Dennis Faas's picture

If consumer response is any indication, the public wants their modern technological devices to be hi-speed, visually stimulating, and offer more options than one will ever need or use in their lifetime. But can these features be detrimental to the overall experience for some people?

If the user has autism, the answer is a definite "yes".

John LeSieur, owner of the small software start-up "People CD", has a six-year-old grandson who has autism. For Zachery, the entire experience of using a computer is wasted on the countless options that confuse the child. The episode ends when Zachery hurls the computer mouse in frustration.

Figuring that there must be an easier way for autistic children to navigate their way through the computer, LeSieur began searching for assistive online tools. He found nothing useful. Instead, he built his own resource from scratch, named it the Zac Browser For Autistic Children, and made it available to anyone for free.

The Zac Browser simplifies the experience of using a computer, blocking most websites that depict violent, sexual, or other adult-themed materials. Instead it offers a wide selection of free, public websites designed to promote educational games, music, videos and (most importantly) visually stimulating images. (Source: usatoday.com)

While a number of programs are already designed to restrict child access to adult content, the Zac Browser goes a step beyond, taking over the computer and reducing the controls of children who are constantly bombarded with unnecessary options. The Zac Browser is free to install.

The Zac Browser promises to restore confidence in autistic children. The software disables many extraneous keys like the "Print Screen" button and limits the power of the right button on the mouse, eliminating the chance of making a counterproductive click that results in typical fits of frustration and rage.

The Zac Browser allows autistic children to choose their own activities by clicking bigger-than-normal icons, like a sports ball for games or a stack of books for stories. Best of all, filters are always active, ensuring that no advertisements or other flashing distractions appear on the screen. (Source: boston.com)

Many are confident that the Zac Browser will be received as a resounding success, especially since revenue is not a determining factor.

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