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robertogreco : readability   15

Microsoft Hackathon 2015 winner extends OneNote to improve learning outcomes for students | News Center
"Education is a must-have ingredient for success. And to succeed in education, reading and writing is essential. The challenges that come with language barriers and learning disabilities such as dyslexia are vast and varied, but luckily technology is able to help many students overcome literacy obstacles.

One solution is coming from a team at Microsoft that spans collaboration between Windows, OneNote, Bing and Microsoft Research: the OneNote for Learning extension. The team and their project emerged victorious over more than 3,300 other projects and 13,000 other hackers around the world competing in the company’s second annual //oneweek Hackathon during the last week of July.

Sebastian Greaves, a Vancouver-based OneNote developer, thinks of the extension as a toolbox with many small tools that can solve big problems. It has special text formatting tools that can make reading, writing and note-taking easier. Features include enhanced dictation powered by Bing speech recognition services, immersive reading that uses Windows services of simultaneous audio text playback with highlighting, and natural language processing that relies on Microsoft Research.

“One of the key things we wanted to achieve is to make sure no student ever got behind in their education because of difficulties with reading,” says Greaves, who drove down to Redmond, Washington, with others from his office to work side-by-side with the entire team during Hackathon. “We wanted to make sure that was as little a barrier as possible, so they can focus on what they’re learning.”

More than a dozen of Greaves’ teammates worked together for more than eight weeks to create the free OneNote extension, which will debut this fall in several schools in the U.S. and France.

“One of the great things about this project was that we utilized loads of different services,” Greaves says. “It meant that we could do so much more than we could’ve done if we had to write it all from scratch.”

By connecting with so many existing technologies across Microsoft, the team was able to do a lot in a short period of time. Every team member made key contributions to push the project forward, says Jeff Petty, the accessibility lead for Windows for Education and the program manager who led the grand prize-winning team.

“It takes a tremendous amount of work to envision it, pull it together and then deliver it in such a way where it just makes sense for people,” says Petty. “I don’t think we could have done something as powerful without having real breadth and depth on the team.”

Petty was interested in finding opportunities to deliver better learning outcomes for students and teachers. He focused on dyslexia, which affects as much as 20 percent of the population. He connected with a team in OneNote that was working on solving problems for dyslexic readers, such as visual crowding. That team found ways to put more space between letters, which makes words more readable.

That team had won an internal OneNote hackathon in the spring for that idea, led by Valentin Dobre, a software engineer, and Greaves.

Petty recognized this was a great start, but soon he and the expanding team also realized they could do more to pull together a more wide-reaching solution for students.

“When you address challenges with reading and writing, the benefits extend far beyond the original audience you had in mind,” says Petty. “By solving a problem for one audience, we’re actually going to make life easier for many more people.”

In his work with Windows, they were able to take advantage of the immersive reading function, with the ability to highlight text and have it read aloud, which increases reading comprehension. The next big connection was finding font and reading experts in Windows research.

“They helped us gel,” Petty says. “They backed up our solutions with science. Nothing that we built came from what we just thought was a good idea. It’s all based on prior research. These are proven interventions for students with dyslexia and also techniques that create a better reader for everybody.”

The researchers provided additional ideas for improving the team’s tool chest, like breaking words down into syllables to improve word recognition, and reading comprehension mode, which highlights different parts of speech like verbs and subordinate clauses.

Mira Shah was the team’s user research expert and formerly a speech pathologist. She gave them a real-world perspective with her experience in schools and seeing firsthand what worked and what didn’t.

Petty served as the glue to the team, bringing a broad perspective to reading and writing, and kept them on track with guiding principles, such as developing something backed by science, and keeping everyone focused on delivering something that would make a difference in people’s lives – something they could all be proud of, regardless of the outcome.

“I think we can make reading and writing better for everybody,” Petty says. “And if we really focus on people with disabilities, and we understand what works for them, we can bring those designs and solutions to our products that benefit everyone.”

Once the team came together, they shared a common drive to finish what they started.

“At no point did we think we were not going to ship,” Petty says. “OneNote was not interested in doing this as an experiment. Hackathon forced us to create a prototype they could polish to take it to schools in the fall.”

During the three very intense days of the //oneweek Hackathon, everyone on the team met each other for the first time, working practically nonstop under the Redmond tents that housed 3,000 people during the working sessions. Having the Vancouver-based OneNote development members – Greaves, Dominik Messinger and Pelle Nielsen – join the rest of the team was critical to their success.

“We could not have done it without them being there,” Petty says. “It was a completely different way of working, to get rapid feedback and iterate and iterate and iterate. We’d give them protected blocks of time where they got no additional feedback. Then we’d come back together for joint review. We were doing iterations while they were coding, then we had to decide to either refine functionality or bring new features. There is no way we could have made the same progress had we not all been there.”

At the Hackathon, the team also met the mother of a daughter who has severe dyslexia, working with another team. She believed what the OneNote for Learning team was doing was going to make a difference, and her reaction gave them even more confidence they were on the right track.

And for developer and team member Dominik Messinger, whose native language isn’t English, the project provided him with better tools to improve his own language skills, such as dividing words into semantic units for better comprehension – and pronunciation.

“I caught myself reading out some notes for OneNote documentation, and just listening to it, discovered some words I’ve totally pronounced wrong. Text to speech is pretty useful,” Messinger jokes. “Also, having short term goals and having all this energy, coding really fast and collaborating really, really fast – that was quite an experience. We can be proud of what we achieved in so few days.”

For the whole team, the Hackathon exemplified the best things about being able to tap into the entire company for resources.

“I think there’s a lot of strength in working across orgs and teams, and getting to work with people we might otherwise not get to work with, such as the accessibility team,” Nielsen says. “Learning how important it is to choose the right color scheme or font was eye opening.”

While everyone brought their own strengths to the project, its ultimate purpose served as a north star that maintained the team’s focus.

“We wanted to make sure this was a non-stigmatizing feature. This is something anybody could use. Someone using the extension wouldn’t raise a big red flag that they’ve got a disability,” Nielsen says. “For me, the most important thing was recognizing the value of our goal. It doesn’t matter how cool the tech is if it doesn’t help anyone. That’s what is so compelling about this project. We’re making learning easier for every single student.”"
microsoft  onenote  reading  howweread  immersivereadin  dyslexia  2015  education  literacy  readability  mirashah  assistivetechnology 
november 2015 by robertogreco
Designing for Non-Native Speakers · An A List Apart Blog Post
"For the past few years, I’ve worked on sites and web apps that have large user groups of non-native speakers of English. That has given me a chance to look at how they are accepted (or rejected) by people who don’t speak English as a first language.

Some curious facts emerge when you compare the languages most sites use, versus the languages most internet users speak. While around half of all web pages are in English, only about 28 percent of the people using the internet speak English as a first language. Interesting, right? There are billions of people who use and browse the English web, but are not native speakers.

Asking for fully translated and localized sites is a mammoth task, one only large international conglomerates can afford. Instead, we can take some other simple steps to make our sites accessible for non-native speakers. We can focus on clear language, interfaces, and prompts, to help users as they navigate a largely English-speaking web.



Non-native speakers of English often need a little extra help to get through English web interfaces. That is OK. If they are a significant part of your customer base, these are some simple ways to support them, making a more powerful online experience possible. Aligning your readability level with your users’ reading comprehension level, standardizing your interface, and expanding the range of help options available to users are all things you can do now—you don’t need to wait until the future when you have the time and money for a complete overhaul of your content. By planning and delivering these discrete steps, you can do a lot right now to help all your users, whether they are native speakers or not."
senongoakpem  2015  english  esl  writing  readability 
july 2015 by robertogreco
mrmrs / designer + developer in sf
"Trying to make the web as fast as possible, highly readable, 100% responsive, and easy to navigate.

I like building tools that help make designing in the browser a little easier.

Advocate for users and open-source."
adammorse  via:maxfenton  webdev  opensource  css  readability  responsivewebdesign  templates  responsivedesign  webdesign 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Adam Darowski | Blog | URL as UI
"Computer users have gotten so used to the graphical user interface (GUI) that it is easy to forget that computers basically operate via a series of commands. The web has not only brought the command line back to the surface (with the web browser’s address bar), it has exposed the concept to an entire generation of users that has never seen a command line.

When you access a web site, you are generally typing in a URL (unless, of course, you are selecting a bookmark or following a link from an email, IM, other site, etc.). The URL is essentially a command to go fetch that content. We take components of the URL such as “http://”, “www”, and “.com” for granted now, these are rather arcane expressions that would be nonsensical to non-web user. But since most sites we access start with an “http” (perhaps an “https”) and end with a “.com” (or “.net”, “.org”, etc.), we get used to these conventions.

Many developers take the time to learn the command line instead of using the graphical user interface because it can be faster and more efficient.



Once I learned the conventions, it was an easy choice for me.

Similarly, navigating a web site simply by the URL can be much faster and more efficient than relying on the site’s information architecture and navigation menus."
urls  2008  design  ui  adamdarowski  linkrot  finability  last.fm  flickr  readability  via:mattthomas  commandline 
august 2014 by robertogreco
Chrome Web Store - Send to Kindle for Google Chrome™
"Sending and reading web content such as news articles and blog posts to your Kindle device or reading app is now easier than ever.
[Official Amazon.com extension.]

Send to Kindle for Google Chrome makes web articles easier to read - we send just the content you want and not the distractions.

Key features include:
• Send news articles, blog posts and other web content to Kindle.
• Send web content to Kindle in one step or preview before you send.
• Select text from the web page and send it to your Kindle.
• Read anytime, everywhere on your Kindle devices and reading apps.
• Choose to archive content in your Kindle library, where you can re-download it conveniently at any time."
bookmarking  readlater  reading  plugins  extensions  chrome  pocket  readability  instapaper  kindle  amazon 
august 2012 by robertogreco
inessential.com: The Readable Future
"This trend means that their medley-of-madness designs will increasingly be routed-around, starting with presumably their most-favored readers, the more affluent and technical, but extending to the less-affluent and less-technical until it includes just about everybody.

The future is, one way or another, readable.

Because that’s what readers want, and because the technology is easier to find and use and learn than ever. That trend will continue because developers live to give people technologies that make life better.

This means that ads will go-unviewed. Analytics will be less and less accurate. (They’re already inaccurate.)"
web  reading  design  content  readability  instapaper  flipboard  zite  2011  brentsimmons  advertising  clutter  technology  publishing 
november 2011 by robertogreco
The Telepaper
"The Telepaper is a service that turns your Readability reading list into a newspaper, ready to be delivered straight to you.

It's a demonstration of both the Newspaper Club and Readability APIs.

To get started, you need to pair your Newspaper Club and Readability accounts with The Telepaper. If you don't have an account for either of them, you can sign up along the way — but it works best when you've got some unread articles in Readability."
telepaper  readability  newspapers  newspaperclub  automation 
july 2011 by robertogreco
studiostudio, dyslexie lettertype, project dyslexia, dyslexie, lettertype dyslexie, project dyslexie: The font for people with dyslexia
"font…especially designed for people w/ dyslexia. When they use this, they make less errors when they are reading. It makes reading easier for them. It takes less effort.

The font Dyslexia is used by several schools, universities, speech therapists & remedial teachers. In an independent research of University of Twente has been proven that the font Dyslexia improves the reading results.

Research:

The study at University of Twente showed people w/ dyslexia made fewer reading errors when they use the dyslexia font instead of…standard font.

The people w/ dyslexia made fewer errors, than normal readers, on EMT w/ the font “Dyslexia”. This is an indication that reading with the font “Dyslexia” decreases the amount of reading errors.

This study was performed with 21 people with dyslexia. The text was at university level. The research was done by using standard lists w/ words of the EMT list & Klepel list."

[Video also here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VLtYFcHx7ec ]
fonts  accessibility  dyslexia  readability  typography  typeface  toshare  via:cervus 
july 2011 by robertogreco
Notice of an Advisory Relationship (Ftrain.com)
"I'm 36 now, and I've been writing for the web since I was 21. I've written for other media, but this right here is my medium of choice and I love it the most, even if I've been pretty lousy at updating Ftrain over the last few years.

In those 15 years I've learned that the web has countless ways to say “no,” or to say “meh.” It has fewer ways to say “yes.” Readability looks like a way to say “yes” to people doing hard work—whether they're journalists, essay and fiction writers, publishers, editors, fact-checkers, illustrators, photographers, proofreaders, circulation specialists—or the people who write the checks. The web needs more “yes.” That is why I've thrown my hat into the ring."

[via: http://blog.frankchimero.com/post/3526362273/in-those-15-years-ive-learned-that-the-web-has ]
paulford  readability  kickstarter  postive  meh  yes  support  writing  creativity  instapaper  funding  micropayments  moneyforcontent  money  publishing 
february 2011 by robertogreco
Marco.org - Readability's new service
"new Readability service: you pay a small fee each month, & they give most of the proceeds to the authors of the pages you choose (by using Readability bookmarklet on them, or adding them in other ways). It’s a great way for readers to support web publishers, big & small, directly & automatically…<br />
<br />
Instapaper will soon provide an option to send logs of your reading activity to your Readability account if you have one, so pages you read in Instapaper will give “credit” to the publishers.<br />
<br />
I’ve created a special Readability edition of the Instapaper iPhone & iPad app to serve as Readability’s official mobile app, due out in the near future.<br />
<br />
I’m an advisor to the company.<br />
<br />
Trust me, these guys really know their stuff, & their heads are in the right place: there are no sinister motives or shady practices. It works exactly the way you’d expect, & is one of the most positive, constructive efforts I’ve seen in the online publishing world in a long time."
instapaper  readability  media  publishing  micropayments  longform  marcoarment 
february 2011 by robertogreco
arc90 lab : experiments : Readability
"Reading anything on the Internet has become a full-on nightmare. As media outlets attempt to eke out as much advertising revenue as possible, we’re left trying to put blinders on to mask away all the insanity that surrounds the content we’re trying to read.
readability  plugin  bookmarklets  browsers  reading  distraction  attention  online  web  javascript  bookmarklet  plugins  usability  onlinetoolkit  clutter  filter  browser 
march 2009 by robertogreco

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