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Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Web Browser for Autistic Kids

I ran across this AP article by Brian Bergstein today. Grandfather builds Web browser for autistic boy Basically, it's about a web browser that was created especially for autistic children to help simplify the web experience. But really, I think this would help any child. The majority of web pages are poorly designed, and for anyone using the web for the first time it's like learning an entirely new way of reading. Simply learning how to click on a link is difficult. For example, on this page alone anything with blue letters is a link, but so are some of the pictures (but, not all of the pictures). We are so steeped in the web, that we forget how hard it was to learn. Every time I help a child with research or finding pictures on the web I am amazed by how much they don't see or don't understand. Simple skills like scrolling down the page, are just something they have never encountered or never been taught. In general, I think librarians need to be assisting patrons more with learning this new information literacy. The anyone-can-do-this attitude leads people to settle for low quality information, and there is so much fantastic content out there that they are missing. Browsers and browser add-ons are underutilized resources in libraries. I wish I knew more about programming myself because I would love to create kid and research friendly browsers. Wouldn't it be amazing if your library had a catalog search right next to the google search on public access computers? Or tabs accessing news and databases right under your patrons noses? Ah, to dream (and to have a team of programmers at my disposal)! Until that day comes, you might find this Zac Browser to be useful on library computers, or simply a recommended resource for concerned parents. More information and the download is available at

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