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Students made Facebook easily accessible for visually impaired people

16 June 2011 / 13:06:05  GRReporter
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Visually impaired people will have easier access to Facebook with the invention of three Greek students in Computer Science from the Economic University of Athens, To Vima reported. Alexis Tzanetopoulos, Filippos Protogeridis and Dimitris Stripelis are the young boys who developed a new web application that will enable all visually impaired to use the social network. The innovation has won the first place in the competition for development of new technologies and today the three inventors are ready to develop its entrepreneurial potential.

It all started when the 23-year-old Alexis attempted to teach the 12-year-old Vassilis to use the computer. The first steps were the child to learn to use the word processing program Word. Then they proceed with the Internet. Naturally, the small Vassilis wanted to become part of the alternative world's largest social network. "Blind people use the computer with the help of a specific program that reads everything written on the screen. That program makes the visually impaired user to press the Tab button at least 25 times only to find out what his friend had written on his wall," explains Alexis. He decided to develop a new platform that will allow people with or without impaired vision to navigate without much difficulty. Of course, he was mainly motivated by his devotion to the small Vassilis and his desire to make the world more accessible to disadvantaged people. "It was a matter of time to develop a new software that will offer them new opportunities."

Alexis developed the software initially and contacted two of his colleagues from the University – Dimitris and Filippos – to jointly implement the project. They all started working in December last year and focused on the development of an application that converts the data on the Facebook into sound. At the same time, it uses a new type of reading the data on the screen, which is consistent with the philosophy of the web site. The application also uses the function "voice recognition" and the user can use voice commands and keystrokes to perform basic functions such as reading the posts on the "wall".

The three inventors wish to sell their innovation on the market like their colleagues abroad. "This is not charity. This is a business idea that addresses specific needs. This means that it can help a group of people, thus responding to humanity. On the other hand, it suggests the potential of using the idea commercially. Any product that covers specific needs can lead to investment and profit," explains Alexis. He stresses that the state has no policy in the development of high technology to help people with disabilities. Everything is in the hands of private initiative and this is another reason the young developers to seek the support of private investors.

Currently, the 23-year-old Alexis Tzanetopoulos has undertaken to develop a second application that will serve people with upper limb disorders, again with the use of voice commands. At the same time, they are willing to expand their platforms for the blind and to add applications for using Twitter, YouTube and Wikipedia.

Tags: Media newsTechnologiesFacebookBlindApplication
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