Web Browser for People with Intellectual Disabilities

Web Trek is a Web browser designed specifically for people with intellectual disabilities. Based upon research (more info below), it is sold by AbleLink Technologies as part of two software suites for $199 and $399.  The following image shows screen shots of Web Trek in the background, and its associated “Visual Search Site” in the foreground.

screen shots of browser & search site, showing picture-based interfaces

Highlights Of WebTrek’s Features

  • built-in screen reader that narrates Web-page text aloud in a voice;
  • facility to use a picture from a Web page as an oversize favorites button on the user’s home screen;
  • a single-click interface for buttons on the home screen; and
  • access to the “Visual Search Site” (link to screen shots), a picture-based, Web search engine.

WebTrek’s Prototype Features

The prototype included the following features.  The AbleLink Technologies Web site does not mention them, so I do not know if they are present in the current product.  I hope they are.

  • an audio prompt-description of a button when the cursor hovers over it; (This was set up to be similar to balloon help.)
  • an audio prompt following a user-initiated event, such as a click, to guide the user through the next most-likely step in a task; (This was designed to minimize errors.)
  • a minimum of buttons displayed, and only when the current task requires them; (An attempt to reduce clutter / distractions.) and
  • the user’s name displayed on the start button and on the start page.  (Personalization is its goal.)

Grant- & Pilot Study

The prototype was developed starting in 1999 with a grant from The U.S. Department of Education’s National Institute on Disability Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR).  On the AbleLink Technologies site are a summary of the grant and the pilot study’s detailed description in an image-based, non-accessible PDF.

Notes

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6 Responses to “Web Browser for People with Intellectual Disabilities”

  1. EquiisSavant Says:

    Your description really doesnt explain the product very well. What exactly is it this product can do for example, for a person with autism, what age range is it targeted for, and what kind of “language” is it using to facilitate the communication ? Or is it just a bunch of colorful pretty pictures that really does not facilitate the communication ? Just asking for more details. It looks interesting, but I’m not convinced it serves for example, non-verbal autistics, some of whom have “intellectual disabilities” and some who don’t. I would be interested in learning more …

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    • John Rochford Says:

      I agree with you that my description does not explain the product very well. It was limited basically by two factors. One is that, on the AbleLink Technologies’ Web site, there is no free, trial version available for download and testing. The other is I did not want to pay the minimum of $299 to evaluate the product.

      There is plenty of detail about the prototype product and the original research that created it. At the bottom of my post, I provided links to that information. I can’t vouch for the validity of the research, or tell you that the article will answer your questions, but its the best information I could find.

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  2. EquiisSavant Says:

    Unfortunately, the information you provide is not accessible to your biggest pool of customers — independent adults with Autism. This is because the format is verbal and is inaccessible. You need to use photos and pictures when you are selling for Language “in pictures” people with Autism LFA or HFA. That is what I was looking for. How can anyone build a product or service claiming to benefit people who include those on the Autism spectrum if you do not know that much about it from talking to the people with the condition who need the accessible communication format ? This is all too much bother. I’ll recommend people who are always asking me about assistive technologies go to some of the other suppliers I have found who are more Autism accessible. Thanks.

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    • John Rochford Says:

      You have confused me with the vendor. In no way do I represent it. I am not selling the product. What I was doing was informing the accessibility community that I had found it, and what information I could gather about it. I suggest you direct your comments to the actual vendor, AbleLink Technologies. It has a contact form on its Web site. The address is:

      http://www.ablelinktech.com/_company/article-contactus.asp

      Also, I direct your attention to the bottom of my original post about WebTrek. I state, “Note: No endorsement of AbleLink Technologies and its products is intended or implied.”

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  3. EquiisSavant Says:

    Yes, but you are putting the product on the Internet to help increase its sales. A pity your formats so disserve people on the Autism spectrum — a part of the chain you do have an Autism access anti-discrimination responsibility. I am a diagnosed autistic savant with a law degree and an MBA, and if it is inaccessible for me, Heaven help someone with lesser abilities. Sorry. I am not impressed.

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  4. Weekend Gazette – Link Collection for January 9 at STC AccessAbility SIG Says:

    […] A Web Browser for People with Intellectual Disabilities. […]

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