Chris Maury

Ruse Laboratories
Mar 18, 2015 2:34AM


To the great frustration of the blind and the visually impaired, access to digital technology is overwhelmingly predicated on visual display—to use a computer or a smartphone easily, you have to be able to see it. Current text-to-speech screen-reader applications are based on designs made for sighted users, and are often inefficient, unpleasantly impersonal, or prohibitively expensive.

Chris Maury and his partners at Pittsburgh-based Conversant Labs are working to build improved digital tools for the blind, and from a singular perspective: Maury was diagnosed with Stargardt macular degeneration in 2011 and is gradually losing his vision. The three-part algorithm in this auction lot seeks to address the needs Maury has experienced during the progressive stages of his disease. The first part improves screen readability, allowing changes to font size and display contrast; the second directs an audio screen-reading app; and the third enables an individual to interact conversationally with Yelp restaurant searches. 

About Progression: Triptych

I. Readerbility (2011)

The first change I noticed as I began to lose my vision was how much harder it was to read my daily news article. The increased time it took for me to read meant I had to read fewer articles. This algorithm from this section improves the readability of content on and enabled me, for a time, to continue to read the news. Adjustments include a more readable font, large typeface, and improved contrast. Readerbility is a browser extension for Google Chrome and is written using CSS and Javascript.

II. AudioBlur (2012)

As my vision got worse, the accommodations from Readerbility ceased to be enough to allow me to continue reading at a reasonable speed.  This section eschews visual cues and instead reads aloud the content of articles on, enabling the individual to stay connected to the rest of the world without relying on visual acuity. AudioBlur is a browswer extension for Google Chrome and is written using Javascript.

III. AsYouWish (2013)

Rather than continuing to play catch up and fight to maintain the same quality of life through assistive technology, I began to explore what was possible by ignoring how information is communicated visually. This final algorithm attempts to move the individual beyond the constraints of visually-centered tools, like websites and mobile applications, allowing them to explore the possibilities of experiences which rely only on the sense of sound.  Specifically, AsYouWish enables the individual to interact conversationally with Yelp restaurant search, an essential day-to-day tool. The piece is a web application built for Google Chrome and is written in Javascript.

- Chris Maury

Chris Maury

Ruse Laboratories