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Drexel Students Develop Mobile Apps To Aid Visually Impaired

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Ian Bush Ian Bush
Ian Bush is an anchor, reporter, news editor, and technology editor&nb...
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By Ian Bush

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - A group of Drexel grads is behind a set of mobile apps designed to
make life easier for the blind and visually impaired.

What started as a college senior project is now available in the
Google Play market – the Android app store.

“We felt that if we could find a way to use mobile technology to help
the visually impaired, it would be something that we could be proud
of,” says Nate Bomberger.

He and his fellow computer science and software engineering students
– Trevor Adams, Tom Burdak, Shawn Busolits, Andrew Scott, Matt
Staniewicz, and Nate Vecchiarelli – came up with five apps, under the
umbrella name VisAssist.

One is called the Contrastinator, which uses a smartphone or tablet
camera and screen to make words easier to read.

“They can hold a piece of paper out, put the phone over the text,
it’ll magnify it, change the contrast, adjust it so they can see it,”
Bomberger says.

Another app acts as an overlay for Facebook and Twitter, and makes for an
uncluttered social networking experience on sites where the design and
layout changes can be a hindrance to those with visual impairments.

“They can use these things without having to relearn the user
interface every time,” Bomberger explains. “For a person who can’t
see, that’s important.”

There’s also a customized non-QWERTY touchscreen keyboard, where
text-to-speech prompts guide the user to the right letter.

Their work was picked as Drexel’s top senior design project.
Bomberger says the Overbrook School for the Blind has been testing the
apps, and the team is excited that anyone can now download VisAssist
for free. The apps are in development for other mobile platforms.

For more information, go to www.visassist.org.

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