Student engineers use technology to help the visually impaired

During a 24 hour competition, students built a better way to handle sensitive information.

Group of engineering students and Dean
From top left to right: Timothy J. Rose, Josue N. Rivera, Andonaq Grozdani, Chuefeng Vang, Interim Dean of Engineering Dr. Ramprasad Balasubramanian, Hieu Ngo, and Full-time Lecturer and team advisor Clinton Rogers

On April 13, 2018, the PerkinsHacks 2018 competition at Boston’s Perkins School for the Blind brought together teams of college engineers to use technology to improve accessibility for visually impaired patients. UMass Dartmouth computer science students took part in the 24-hour challenge and took top prize in the “Privacy Please!” category with their novel approach to filling out sensitive information forms.

Students Hieu Ngo ’19, Josue N. Rivera ’20, Timothy J. Rose ’20, Chuefeng Vang ’20, and Andonaq Grozdani ’20 used problem-solving skills, Javascript, logical thinking, and knowledge of JSON array code to create EZ form. EZ form addressed the challenge that visually impaired patients face when completing personal medical forms in waiting rooms. Current technology reads these forms aloud and requires assistance when filling them out, despite the sensitive information contained within.

The team of five, with the help of lots of caffeine, worked 24 hours straight on the project. EZ Forms allows someone to take a picture of a medical form, upload it, parse it, and the program will audibly read the blank form back to the visually impaired person. When it gets to a question, it will wait for a response. This allows for privacy of filling out the form, as opposed to dictating a response to someone else to fill out for them.

The UMass Dartmouth team plans to continue working the project by making apps for Android and iOS.


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