Most of us browse the web many times a day without giving it a second thought, but for people who suffer from disorders in the autistic spectrum, it becomes a much more difficult experience.
With autistic children, the challenge is twofold - protecting them from the dangers of the Internet, as well as providing them with an browsing experience that is in line with their needs. ZAC browser is a tool that aims to meet both requirements.
ZAC Browser is a Internet browser that provides children with a limited and specially designed way to surf the net. Once open, it can only be closed by using the ctrl + L shortcut, and, while is it active, users are only able to access content within the boundaries set by the program.
This content is pre-programmed and designed to attract the younger eye. The ZAC Browser mouse leaves a trail of stars, fish swim around the screen and butterflies land on open windows. There are roughly five areas to explore within ZAC Browser - drawing, interactive stories, songs, music and games. All of these areas can be explored further, with many more options within each category.
The browser itself is not modifiable - there are no configuration options - and although I looked hard, I couldn't find a full description of the content. The options I tried seemed very appropriate for children, but as there doesn't seem to be a definitive list of providers, any prospective parent would have to either trust ZAC Browser or individually check each option, a potentially time-consuming task.
In all, I was impressed by ZAC Browser, although using it feels more like a computer game than an Internet experience. Although it is specifically for autistic children, I'm sure other young children would enjoy it too. Unfortunately, I didn't have any children, autistic or not, to test it on. Despite this, it is definitely worth a try. If you do manage to find the right testers, let us know how it goes!!
ZAC Browser, an admirable attempt to make the Internet accessible for autistic children.