BeeLine Reader

For this blog post I knew that I wanted to talk about online-reading vs print-reading but I wasn’t sure where to start. So I searched the internet and found a few interesting articles about the topic. The only issue was that this is a big question to talk about in just one post. I needed some way to narrow down my topic and I didn’t know what to focus in on.

But then I took a step back and looked at my screen, which looks like this:

beelinereader

That’s when it hit me – my blog post topic was literally right in front of my eyes the entire time.

What you see on my screen above is browser plug-in called BeeLine Reader. BeeLine Reader is a free service that turns the words on your screen into various shades of red and blue creating a color gradient. It can be turned on and off for each page, as shown below, or just disabled completely in your settings. It can be used directly on a webpage or on PDFs and there’s even a mobile app for when you’re reading on the go.

Without BeeLine Reader:

Screenshot (48)

With BeeLine Reader:

Screenshot (49)

 

Beeline works in an interesting way. Our minds process colors faster than words, which is why almost all traffic signs have a distinct color in addition to the words (stop signs are red, yield signs are yellow, one-way signs are black and white, etc). The color gradient helps make transitioning from word to word and line to line much smoother. Using BeeLine Reader, you’re less likely to skip words or repeat lines (otherwise known as “line transition errors”).

Also, in the photos above showing BeeLine before and after, I changed nothing else. So clearly, BeeLine makes the words slightly larger and centers them on the page. I’m not sure if this happens for PDFs or on mobile because I haven’t tried it yet. So if anybody gets on their smartphones or downloads a PDF to read, try it with BeeLine reader and let me known if there are any additional changes other than font color!

BeeLine is helpful for everyone including readers with dyslexia, ADD or other vision issues. BeeLine was recommended to me by a friend. Then I recommended it to my sister, who suffered six concussions over three years back when she was a softball catcher. Ever since her concussions she’s had difficulty reading for long periods of time and online-reading was especially difficult for her. She’s only been using BeeLine Reader for a few weeks but so far she thinks it’s helping her read quicker and more efficiently.

I don’t know of many people that use BeeLine Reader but if any of you try it feel free to share what you think!

 

 

 

Technology and Autism

One major benefit of technology and the modern world is seeing how our inventions help people. Our society has created apps and devices that can help autistic children perform basic tasks that are otherwise incredibly difficult or impossible to perform.

Children with autism have difficulty focusing on one task at a time without getting distracted. Technological devices such as iphones, tablets, computers, televisions, etc. help this issue by stimulating multiple senses at once.ak1 A video game has the ability to stimulate both your eyes and your ears. While a book really only stimulates your eyes.

Another issue that autistic children have is staying still. It’s been proven that they learn and work much better when they’re moving. Even if they’re  doing something that just requires moving their hands such as drawing, using stress balls, typing, etc. This goes right along with the fact that they can’t focus on one task. Their bodies and minds must be both be  fully stimulated to productively promote learning.

Autism often goes hand-in-hand with poor social skills. For children specifically, it’s difficult to make eye contact, read other people’s emotions, communicate and express their own feelings. This seriously limits the amount of meaningful connections they can make with people. In the case of Jong-Hyun, his inability to make eye contact was a major issue in his relationship with his mother. Watch this short clip (just a warning: it almost made me cry) and you’ll see what I’m talking about:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vNr1kS1ksP8

As you can see in the video, Samsung has collaborated with doctors and professors a to create an app called Look At Me. It’s a series of “missions” which are basically games designed specifically to help autistic children with reading facial expressions, expressing their own emotions and making eye contact.

The app was tested on twenty children over the course of eight weeks. During this time, the students played a variety of games. For example, there’s a game that places faces of multiple people in small dots over the eyes of a different person. The student has to identify which person’s face is in the dot. This helps improve facial recognition and also making eye contact.

ak3

Another game, as shown above, displays multiple different faces with multiple different emotions. The child has to identify happy and sad faces from this line-up. This helps the kids recognize emotions.

Of the twenty children that were trained with Look At Me, sixty percent showed improvements.

Many autism suffers have difficulties dealing with unpredictability. Technology is one of the most predictable parts of our world. You press a button and it will do something. Every time you press that same button, it will do that same something. This isn’t the first time that technology has been used to aid in the development of autistic children and I’m sure it won’t be the last.