Thursday, August 6, 2009

Autism + Internet = ?

The ZAC Browser... a solution to a very real problem.

As my trip to the "ADA Day at the Zoo" event last week reminded me, there's still a whole lot I don't know about the hardware and software that already exists to help those of us who live with a disability. A case in point is Autism, and some software I discovered only last week that could make cruising the internet a lot easier (and safer) for anyone with that disorder.

The ZAC (Zone for Autistic Children) Browser offers a simplified interface that makes accessing the web much easier and less confusing for most users. What follows is the story of the ZAC Browser in the creators own words. Please see their website for additional details, and important compatibility information.

The origins of Zac Browser

ZAC Browser was originally designed in response to a family problem. In 2002, we were blessed with the arrival of our grandson, Zackary. From very early on, Zackary demonstrated signs of development disorders and in 2005, he was diagnosed with severe autism. For the love of our grandson, it was a pleasure to call together our talents to create an Internet browser specifically dedicated to his needs.

The beginnings of Zac Browser

Zackary demonstrated a lot of frustration with computers at his school. We were able to determine several reasons whenever he used a conventional browser. First we recognized that there were just too many useless functions for Zackary. The right hand mouse button would be a source of frustration. The functions used to reduce or close the browser would have the window disappear and give access to the task bar and the Windows menu functions which all lead to accessing diverse software on the computer along with the uninstall program function.

The creation of Zac Browser

Following the disappointing results obtained with the use of a conventional browser, we designed a software package specifically adapted for him. We designed a "full screen" program that cannot access the task bar, the Start menu and also cancels the right hand function of the mouse. The buttons are limited to essential functions and the browser prevents the child from accessing inappropriate sites. Children suffering from autism are known for being able to adapt easily to PECS (pictograms) so we designed an icon based navigation system like the PECS system.

Zackary’s first experience with the Zac Browser

From the moment that Zackary tried out the Zac Browser we noticed that he had no more frustrations when using the computer. He was no longer able to click on anything that would bring up unpleasant surprises. So we gave complete control to Zackary and so he was able to play, be entertained and took best advantage of what technology has to offer.

Once we noticed the benefits for Zackary it became obvious that this immense virtual playground should be shared with the whole world.

We know that parents who take care of children with autism must dish out a lot of money to ensure the well-being and the proper development of their child. We wish to contribute in our own way and offer you Zac Browser absolutely free.

The official launch was at the end of April 2008 and it was an instant success thanks to the wide media coverage that we were lucky to benefit from.

The future of Zac Browser

We can now count on over a million users in different languages: English, Spanish and French. We don’t expect to stop there. We are following through with our commitment and continue refining Zac Browser so as to always be on the cutting edge of technological advances. Without you having to continually upgrade, Zac Browser automatically adds new sites and videos as they become available. We are also committed to expanding Zac Browser with other languages. If you wish to get involved and contribute to the expansion of Zac Browser, please consult our "Associate" section.

What’s new in Version 1.5

A drawing board
New sites
New videos
Compatibility with the latest Flash sites
Increased speed in loading videos
Color changes of the Browser background
Changes to the "Smiley" in another category
Added application for "Zac Crash Recovery"
Added shortcut to "The Autism"
Added shortcut to our new forum

Ordinarily I'd close with a short summation of this products features, and my own observations and evaluations. However, this time that has proved problematic at best. While I could download and run the browser, I lack the expertise or experience to give this product the proper review it deserves. Therefore, I leave that up to you. If you've tried the ZAC Browser, or are willing to try it, I'd welcome any comments, positive or negative, that you'd care to post.

Until next time, thank you for your readership, and support.


  1. You always bring such interesting things to our attention. This sounds like a great program.