Solution Overview

Solution Name:

BeeLine Reader

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One-line solution summary:

A simple way to make reading on screen more inclusive and accessible

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Pitch your solution.

The Problem

Reading is a challenge for millions of people with dyslexia, ADHD, and vision impairments, and illiteracy is one of the strongest predictors that a student will drop out of school. Students who have difficulty reading struggle with academics and are much less likely to reach their scholastic and vocational potential.

Our Solution

We have developed a new way to display text on screen that uses a simple but powerful trick: instead of using plain black text, we use a subtle color gradient that pulls the reader's eyes through the text. This assists visual tracking and enables many people with disabilities to read with unprecedented fluency and comprehension.

Unique Scalability

Our approach is uniquely scalable because it works in every human language and can be easily integrated into existing education and reading platforms. Through these integrations, we are empowering people with disabilities and enabling them to reach their potential.

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Film your elevator pitch.

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What specific problem are you solving?

Literacy experts estimate that 800 million people around the world are functionally illiterate. Many millions of these people are affected by disabilities like dyslexia, ADHD, autism, or vision impairment, which together affect over 25% of the population. 

Reading ability is critically important in today's digital economy. In decades and centuries past, there were many jobs that didn't involve reading at all. As a result, it wasn't a problem that a significant portion of people were born with dyslexia, ADHD, or other neurodiversities that make reading challenging. These people simply worked in jobs where reading ability was not a factor.

But in the digital economy, many more jobs (including all of the highest-paid jobs) require the ability to read fluently. We need to ensure that all people are able to thrive in the digital economy—and that means that we need to ensure that neurodiversity and reading-related disabilities are not impediments to success.

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What is your solution?

We have developed a new way to display text that makes reading on screen more efficient and more accessible. We sell this technology via our own tools, and we also license our patents to nonprofits and education platforms.

How It Works

Our technology is conceptually simple and intuitive, which makes it easy for anyone to use. Instead of displaying text in black, we use a subtle color gradient, which helps pull the reader's eyes through the text. The color gradient wraps from the end of one line to the beginning of the next, improving visual tracking and making the reading process easier for people of all reading abilities.

Implementation

Our technology can be implemented on any type of device, from feature phones to fully-loaded desktops. We have implemented our technology using widely-compatible technologies such as javascript, which allows us to support web browsers as far back as Internet Explorer. We also support PDF documents and ebooks so that our users can use our technology to read almost anything.

Partners

Our partners can choose to use our javascript library or to re-implement our patented technology in a different language to maximize efficiency and interoperability on their platform.

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Who does your solution serve, and in what ways will the solution impact their lives?

Although our technology is used by even highly skilled readers (we have a site license with Stanford, among other elite schools), the most important user base for BeeLine Reader is people with reading-related disabilities. 

Even in the disability world, this group is often overlooked because of their "invisible disability." Most of these individuals have one or more of: dyslexia, ADHD, autism, and vision impairments (especially binocular vision problems, which are frequently misdiagnosed as dyslexia).

We correspond daily with people in these communities to ensure that we understand their challenges, listen to their feedback, and consider the ways that we can better serve them. We also work with parents of students with disabilities, special education teachers, medical doctors, optometrists, and other experts who can help us as we serve these communities.

Thanks to input from these communities we have introduced new features, simplified our onboarding process, and learned of new communities (e.g., survivors of traumatic brain injuries, who often have visual tracking issues when reading).

Our technology offers transformative benefits for people in these communities. Many of these people have struggled to read for years or even decades. Our simple tweak allows them to read like never before, and with zero learning curve. 

The reason our approach is so effective is that visual tracking problems are one of the most common challenges for people with reading-related disabilities. Our approach provides an effective, elegant, and intuitive solution that eliminates this challenge and enables easier reading.

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Which dimension of the Challenge does your solution most closely address?

Equip everyone, regardless of age, gender, education, location, or ability, with culturally relevant digital literacy skills to enable participation in the digital economy.
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Explain how the problem you are addressing, the solution you have designed, and the population you are serving align with the Challenge.

We help people of all abilities succeed in the digital economy. Our technology directly empowers people with many common disabilities to read more easily. Our users include workers at Facebook, Intuit, and Google, who use our tools to help them overcome disabilities and perform critical job functions with ease.

At the same time, we enable students from grade school to grad school, people from Berkeley to Burkina Faso, to learn more effectively. This prepares students—especially those with disabilities—for the digital economy jobs that await them. Given the importance of literacy for these jobs, our assistance is critical for ensuring inclusion.

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In what city, town, or region is your solution team headquartered?

Menlo Park, CA, USA
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What is your solution’s stage of development?

Growth: An organization with an established product, service, or business model rolled out in one or, ideally, several communities, which is poised for further growth.
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Explain why you selected this stage of development for your solution.

We have two lines of business, both of which are currently in-market and growing. 

Consumer Tools

Our consumer tools have been adopted by world-class universities like Stanford, as well as by individual readers around the world. These tools have been used to read hundreds of millions of pages in over 60 languages.

Technology Licensing

At the same time, our licensing business is also growing; BeeLine Reader has been adopted by leading accessibility and education platforms like Blackboard and Bookshare. These high-margin deals have allowed us to reach profitability and have also generated significant interest among competitors, who are now looking to license our technology into their education, technology, and media platforms. The strongest interest has come from the accessibility world, where many of our competitors have asked to include our technology in their platforms. 

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Who is the Team Lead for your solution?

Nick Lum, CEO

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More About Your Solution

Which of the following categories best describes your solution?

A new technology
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What makes your solution innovative?

The process of reading has scarcely changed in the last 500 years. We re-imagine how the reading process could look, with an eye toward disability inclusion. Like many innovations, our idea seems almost obvious in hindsight. It is intuitive, and it helps people with little to no learning curve. There are many impactful ideas in the world, and many simple ideas; our idea lies at the intersection of incredible impact and supreme simplicity. 

Our impact is multi-layered. We have direct impacts, such as enabling people with disabilities to study and work more effectively. At the same time, we also have indirect impacts. Our technology opens the door for people with many common learning disabilities to pursue careers in reading-intensive fields, such as medicine or law. These fields will benefit from having neurodiverse individuals, who can bring their unique perspectives and abilities.

We can also work with other innovators in education and disability inclusion. Our technology can interoperate with any reading or learning platform, which allows us to partner with others, instead of competing for attention or users. Our goal is to work collaboratively to enable students and workers in any way we can.

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Please select the technologies currently used in your solution:

  • Software and Mobile Applications
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Select the key characteristics of your target population.

  • Children & Adolescents
  • Elderly
  • Persons with Disabilities
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Which of the UN Sustainable Development Goals does your solution address?

  • 4. Quality Education
  • 8. Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • 10. Reduced Inequality
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In which countries do you currently operate?

  • Australia
  • Brazil
  • Canada
  • Germany
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • South Korea
  • Mexico
  • Philippines
  • South Africa
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
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In which countries will you be operating within the next year?

  • Australia
  • Brazil
  • Canada
  • Germany
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • South Korea
  • Mexico
  • Philippines
  • South Africa
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
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How many people does your solution currently serve? How many will it serve in one year? In five years?

We currently serve around 150,000 people per year. Within one year, we expect to have launched several new partnerships, which will bring us to 250,000 people. Within five years, we expect to have launched dozens of large-scale partnerships, will will put our reach in the 5-10 million range. If it is financially feasible, we will also have lowered the cost (possibly to zero) of our consumer tools, which would allow us to reach millions more. 

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How are you measuring your progress toward your impact goals?

We look to the number of people served, the number of countries reached (currently over 60), and the number of people who receive free access to our technology via our partners. These indicators allow us to track impact in a directional way, without requiring invasive user tracking, which we do not employ. 

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About Your Team

What type of organization is your solution team?

For-profit, including B-Corp or similar models

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How many people work on your solution team?

1 full-time founder, 3 additional part-time contractors

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How long have you been working on your solution?

7 years

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How are you and your team well-positioned to deliver this solution?

We are a scrappy team who understand our users and who are savvy about creating partnerships. Our combined skill set has allowed us to create software for iOS, Chrome, Firefox, and other platforms. In addition to our software skills, our CEO is able to drive our partnerships forward. He previously worked as a lawyer in an international law firm, based in Silicon Valley. This experience allows him to quickly and cost-effectively negotiate licensing agreements with partner companies, including very large organizations. Our technical and business backgrounds give us the ability to grow quickly and increase our impact, even with a surprisingly small team.

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What is your approach to building a diverse, equitable, and inclusive leadership team?

We are a diverse group, who have lived in the US, Africa, and Europe. We have diverse racial/ethnic backgrounds, and we have had men and women on our team in various capacities. We are small and nimble, and we understand the value of having diverse perspectives. We have hired users—including those with relevant disabilities—as interns.

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Your Business Model & Partnerships

Do you primarily provide products or services directly to individuals, to other organizations, or to the government?

Organizations (B2B)
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Partnership & Prize Funding Opportunities

Why are you applying to Solve?

We think outside the box, and we want to join this community of like-minded individuals whom we can work with as we are all building toward a better tomorrow. 

We hope to connect with other Solvers who are interested in partnering on solutions and growing our impact together. In the past, we have found that communities like the Solver community are filled with creative thinking and open-minded individuals who want to work collaboratively. This is precisely what we are looking for, as we have found that innovation and open-mindedness are two strong predictors of partnership success.

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In which of the following areas do you most need partners or support?

  • Business model (e.g. product-market fit, strategy & development)
  • Product / Service Distribution (e.g. expanding client base)
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Please explain in more detail here.

Our main focus is on growing our B2B partnerships. This could be as simple as an organization that wants to put our reading-enhancing widget on their blog, or as in-depth as an accessibility company that wants to integrate our technology into their offerings. 

We also work outside of education/accessibility, and are talking with various media partners as well. Our technology can be applied to any platform that has text, so the sky is the limit!

We are also looking for mentoring/advising with regard to our business model. We want to grow in a fast but responsible way, and we also want to balance impact (lowering the cost of our B2C tools) with organizational sustainability.

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What organizations would you like to partner with, and how would you like to partner with them?

We would be interested in working with MIT faculty or programs (especially MIT OCW) to make their content more accessible to people with disabilities. We would welcome the opportunity to connect with researchers at the MIT Media Lab who work on accessibility/aging. 

These groups can help us understand how our technology is received among academics and researchers. They can also help us raise awareness for our technology among interested groups, both via introductions and by offering out text-enhancing technology on blogs or other text-heavy websites that they offer. 

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Do you qualify for and would you like to be considered for The ASA Prize for Equitable Education? If you select Yes, explain how you are qualified for the prize in the additional question that appears.

No, I do not wish to be considered for this prize, even if the prize funder is specifically interested in my solution

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Do you qualify for and would you like to be considered for The Andan Prize for Innovation in Refugee Inclusion? If you select Yes, explain how you are qualified for the prize in the additional question that appears.

No, I do not wish to be considered for this prize, even if the prize funder is specifically interested in my solution

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Do you qualify for and would you like to be considered for The HP Prize for Advancing Digital Equity? If you select Yes, explain how you are qualified for the prize in the additional question that appears.

Yes, I wish to apply for this prize

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Explain how you are qualified for this prize. How will your team use The HP Prize for Advancing Digital Equity to advance your solution?

We improve digital inclusion for the millions of people with reading-related disabilities. These individuals may have struggled with their education or been unable to pursue a career in their field of interest. Our technology unlocks doors and allows many students with dyslexia, ADHD, autism, and visual impairments to learn and achieve in unprecedented ways. 

If we were selected for this prize, we would expand our free offerings for students in low-income schools, and expand our free programs for university students with disabilities. This would allow us to provide free access to students whose schools may not offer accessibility accommodations, or who make students go through laborious processes to qualify. Our past free offerings for university students have been very well received in the US and abroad, and a grant would allow us to expand our existing program.

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Do you qualify for and would you like to be considered for the Innovation for Women Prize? If you select Yes, explain how you are qualified for the prize in the additional question that appears.

No, I do not wish to be considered for this prize, even if the prize funder is specifically interested in my solution

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Do you qualify for and would you like to be considered for The AI for Humanity Prize? If you select Yes, explain how you are qualified for the prize in the additional question that appears.

No, I do not wish to be considered for this prize, even if the prize funder is specifically interested in my solution

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Do you qualify for and would you like to be considered for The GSR Prize? If you select Yes, explain how you are qualified for the prize in the additional question that appears.

No, I do not wish to be considered for this prize, even if the prize funder is specifically interested in my solution

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Solution Team

  • Nick Lum BeeLine Reader
 
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