When 4,500 sportsmen with disabilities from 176 countries will compete in the Rio Paralympics, which kicks off in the first week of September, the deaf and blind in India will be able to follow the action for the first time.
An app called Newz Hook designed by BarrierBreaks, a Mumbai-based for-profit social enterprise, is planning to feature athletes contesting in the 12-day long event.
Newz Hook is the first ever mobile news application designed to provide easy access to news for the deaf and the blind. From current affairs to business, from science to sports, this app covers news across topics. The only difference is that the articles in Newz Hook are accompanied by a 'sign language' video in which a reporter interprets the news for the deaf in the Indian Sign Language (ISL).
For the visually impaired, the application supports the use of 'screen readers'. Screen readers are software applications used by the blind to operate smartphone and computers. Screen readers read out loud the text displayed on the mobile phone enabling the blind to hear the news.
The application also enables the user to have a high contrast view and increase the size of the text. This permits senior citizens and people with a partial visual impairment to read the news. However, the most striking feature of the application is the use of 'simple understandable language' while generating news content.
"While studying the news consumption pattern of the deaf, we found that most of them quit reading the article citing the use of complex words which they could not understand," said Shilpi Kapoor, founder, BarrierBreaks.