Screenreader enables blind programmer to succeed on the App Store (exclusive)

Roman Koci is a computer science student, and like many of his contemporaries, he dreams of launching a successful app to inspire and entertain.

After several failed ideas, he decided to create a game that would test users on their pop culture knowledge, proving the adage that we can never get enough celebrity gossip. Celebrity Quiz Game, Roman’s free app for iOs and iPad, has made its way to one of the top 15 most downloaded apps in the entertainment category in his native Slovakia. It was developed in just a few months.

And, by the way, Roman is blind. He’s one of the first blind programmers in the world to successfully launch an app.

With strides made in technology for the blind and visually impaired, it is now possible for blind programmers like Roman to both use and develop apps, as well as use text and email without any heavy equipment. For instance, CNN reported that BrailleTouch, a touch-screen braille keyboard for smartphones developed earlier this year, is so fast that sighted people are using it too.

Roman used a suite of tools, including braille display for iOs and screenreader, and a Corona SDK.  The screenreader is designed to interpret the content on a computer screen and re-present it to the user in audio, text-to-speech, or a Braille output device.

Roman told me he is more effective when programming using braille than when using voice commands. “It’s easier to read the text with my fingers,” he said. Roman is already working with his cofounder on an Android version of the app, slated for release later this summer.

Image of Braille-writer via Stanford University