WSU Prof Gets Grant For Helping Visually-Impaired Read Comics

The National Endowment for Humanities has awarded a Wichita State University researcher $100,000 for his work on developing an app that allows visually impaired people to read comic books and graphic novels.

Dr. Darren DeFrain, associate professor of English and director of the Wichita State writing program, has been working with former Wichita State student Aaron Rodriguez to create “Vizling.”

Vizling is an app that allows people who are visually impaired to read and understand comics, graphic novels, or anything that’s got a visual component along with a text component, so they understand the page layout, flow, and movement in addition to just getting told what’s happening.

The Vizling app is twofold: There’s audio to read the words of the book, and sensory clues offer directional insight to the reader.

DeFrain said the next step in app development is to connect with Wichita State’s Training and Technology Team to develop more of the upper end of the software.