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Assistive Technology for All: BeeLine Reader Deployed on Solve's Site

Many individuals understand the feeling of eye strain after looking at a computer for eight hours during work days. Sometimes this strain is compounded at night as we scroll our cell phones, read e-books, or watch TV. BeeLine Reader has a solution to this problem and you can experience it for yourself by turning the feature on now (scroll down to learn how). Your eyes will be able to follow a slight color gradient from one line to the next. This function is possible thanks to BeeLine Reader and it has been specifically designed to make reading more efficient, enjoyable, and easier on the eyes.

BeeLine Reader isn’t just for working adults either. Research reveals that 15% of the US population is estimated to have dyslexia and many children struggle with reading comprehension due to lack of interest, attention deficits, and learning disabilities. Eye-guiding color gradients may assist readers of any age to focus better, especially while reading long blocks of text.

BeeLine Reader is an assistive technology that was developed by Nick Lum, a 2021 Digital Inclusion Solver. Lum shares with us how he developed the technology behind BeeLine Reader and his hopes for making reading on screen more efficient and more accessible to all. Ready to try it yourself? Click here!

What prompted you to develop BeeLine Reader?

I was reading a book about innovation and the thesis was that new technology isn't always better, sometimes it’s just newer. E-books were starting to become popular at the time, but they had their issues (high cost, low selection, limited battery life). I started to think about what you could do on a screen to make the reading process better than on paper. I remembered learning about research on color perception and reading and came up with BeeLine’s color gradients as a way to make the process more cognitively efficient. 

Who will benefit from this assistive technology? 

The people who are most likely to benefit from BeeLine are people who experience reading challenges like dyslexia, autism, or ADHD. Older adults or others with visual impairments might find BeeLine Reader especially useful as well.

Many skilled readers also favor using BeeLine Reader over plain text. These readers can improve their reading speed by 10-30%, with no loss of comprehension. Gradient text has also proved to reduce reading fatigue, which can be a problem for all populations. We have a BeeLine Reader Challenge on our website available that allows people to test our technology and even learn if they read more quickly.

One of our partners, an etextbook platform called Perlego, recently found that 45% of their users are reading with BeeLine. Considering how unlikely users are to ever change from an app’s default settings, this speaks to the breadth of BeeLine’s benefit. Even better, BeeLine is helping students learn more: students using BeeLine on Perlego spend 68% more time studying on the platform. And BeeLine isn’t just good for the students—it’s also good for Perlego; they’ve found that BeeLine users are 38% more likely to convert from a free trial to a paid subscription. This shows that employing inclusive design strategies is good for all parties: users with disabilities, users without, and even the company itself.

What are you excited about for your company right now? 

We are focused on licensing our technology to education and reading platforms, which allows us to quickly scale our impact by making our technology available to readers around the world. We are especially interested in working with news publications and are in talks with several right now. Our value proposition is two pronged: in addition to improving the accessibility of news articles, we are able to dramatically increase reader engagement, as detailed in this article in The Atlantic

BeeLine Reader was recently adopted by MIT Press and various other online reading platforms. We are using the phenomenal reader engagement and purchasing data from Perlego and other partners to find new partners that are interested in improving accessibility, user engagement, and subscription rates. It’s so rewarding to be able to work with companies that are interested in ‘doing good while doing well,’ across a wide range of industries! 

Lastly, we’ve just launched an initiative called Unflation, to help battle the persistently high inflation facing consumers. We’re committed to doing what we can to provide relief to consumers, and we hope other companies will join in and help tamp down inflation and inflation expectations. You can learn more about how Unflation works here.

We are so grateful for the great help from the Solve community—both the staff and the other entrepreneurs—and we are so excited to be integrated into Solve’s website now as well. It’s been an amazing year since we were first selected as a Solver team!

BeeLine Reader is an optional feature on Solve’s article page. Users can change the text color palette or disable the gradient text by toggling over the settings as shown below.

If you are interested in learning more about how to support innovative solutions like BeeLine Reader, find out how to get involved now

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