Easy access to news for persons with disabilities
- Newz Hook
- Country of Implementation
- Asia & Pacific
- South Asia
- Start Year
- First published
“We need to start looking at people with disabilities as customers. Only then we can see inclusion happening.” Ms. Shilpi Kapoor, Founder, BarrierBreak
BarrierBreak is an Indian for-profit social enterprise based in Mumbai that works in the field of digital accessibility and assistive technology. The company has designed an app called Newz Hook, which provides easy access to news for persons with various disabilities. Since its start in 2016 until 2017, Newz Hook has gained 8,000 users who have downloaded the app and 20,000 users who read the news every day on the newzhook.com website.
People with disabilities in India, as elsewhere, are often faced with challenges when it comes to listening or watching the news in an accessible format.
Solution, Innovation and Impact
Newz Hook is a mobile news application designed to provide easy access to news for persons with hearing and visual impairments as well as intellectual disabilities. It also informs parents and special educators on innovations and information regarding the topic of disability. The news is written in simple English and discusses such various topics as current affairs, technology, business, entertainment, sports, and health. The application supports the use of screen readers that read aloud the text displayed on a mobile phone, thus enabling the visually impaired to hear the news. The app also allows the user to have a high contrast view and to increase the size of the text, thus supporting senior citizens and people with a partial visual impairment. To address the needs of persons with a hearing impairment, simple understandable language is used, e.g., a complex word like “infrastructure” is simplified as “roads and bridges.” Additionally, Newz Hook includes sign language videos in which a reporter interprets the news. To enhance the user experience, more features are planned to be added in future.
Funding, Outlook and Transferability
BarrierBreak works with a team of accessibility experts and persons with disabilities to develop their products. Approximately 70 per cent of the total staff are persons with disabilities. The app is currently used only in India, but BarrierBreak Solutions, Ltd. is planning to expand their market and to introduce the app in other countries by establishing local Newz Hook teams and developing local content. At present, a variety of business models are being explored to replicate the project internationally. Currently, the Newz Hook project is fully funded by BarrierBreak. Going forward, Newz Hook aims to generate advertising-based revenues.