What if we had a tool that blocks any kind of GIFs that are dangerous for people with photosensitive epilepsy from the web?
1 Web Developer
I designed a browser extension for people with photosensitive epilepsy
“ When the journalist Kurt Eichenwald opened an animated image sent to him on Twitter in December, the message “You deserve a seizure for your posts” appeared in capital letters along with a blinding strobe light.
Mr. Eichenwald, who has epilepsy, immediately suffered a seizure.”
New York Times, By Cecilia Kang
To better understand
There are a plethora of things that may trigger a seizure. It can be the flickering of a light bulb, a flashing GIF, a high motion video game, a flashing program on TV or just sunlight interrupted by trees during a ride in a vehicle
What we will be focused on in this project was the short videos and GIF’S of any kind that is are widely spread in the Web
What are the guidelines?
Reading and analyzing the guidelines from Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (W3.org) may seem simple but it was maybe the most valuable step we took. Together with the TV guidelines from Office of Communications (ofcom.org) which were also really helpful for getting a more complete idea of what the problem is, Alex started developing an algorithm which it would help us bring the project in life.
What causes this problem on the Web?
The speed or flicker of the flashing (light)
The contrast and brightness of the stimuli
The color of the flicker (from red to blue)
How long the stimulation goes for
What do people with this kind of epilepsy have to say?
A few people with photosensitive epilepsy that I found by joining Facebook groups agreed on answering some questions. Here are 2 important things I found:
Most of the social media platforms give you an option to reduce motion and disable autoplay which is great. But what happens with the rest of the Web?
Some of them use polarized blue sunglasses which helps them reduce the dangerous effects
Our main idea is finally achieved. This browser extension can block any kind of GIF or short video that can be dangerous for people with photosensitive epilepsy.
Handling the sensitivity of contrast and the brightness the user has the option to choose what kind of GIFs he wants to see. In general, with brighter stimuli and strong contrasts in color, the more likelihood of inducing seizures.
Adding a blue tint helps to reduce the dangerous effects caused by the flashing lights
Making short breaks from the screen and drinking water seems to relax the brain and reducing the chances of a seizure.
Disabling pop-up advertisements that are specifically GIFs . These kind of advertisments are not so common, but just in case.
Reviewing how many GIFs are analyzed in total and how many of them are safe or dangerous shows the user that the extension is effective and it works properly.