This well-designed and entertaining children’s Web browser has a serious purpose: to help children on the autism spectrum benefit from the educational Web sites that other kids enjoy. Nonetheless, young children who are not on the spectrum will also find this browser very entertaining–and it’s free.
The program opens in full-screen mode, and the Home page is a cheerful aquarium. Icons for Television, Games, Music, Stories, and a Whiteboard line the bottom of the screen. Every section has an interactive background; Music, for example, has cute little bears holding bells. As you roll the cursor over each one, it emits a different chime. Web pages are accessible via thumbnails on each section page. One caveat: If the People CD Web site is down, ZAC Browser cannot access Web sites. The Whiteboard drawing tool is still functional, however.
John LeSieur, president and CEO of People CD, created ZAC Browser for his severely autistic grandson. He reports that the boy plays with the browser independently, and comes away from his sessions calm and refreshed. LeSieur has made ZAC Browser available to other families in the hope that their children will enjoy the same benefits.
Children affected by pervasive developmental disorders like autism and Asperger syndrome face a wide range of challenges. ZAC Browser is graphically oriented and easy to use, with a variety of entry points and ways to use the program. The sites it links to include favorites like Boowah and Kwalla, Sesame Street, PBS Kids, and more.
In addition to the browser, parents get access to The Autism News, an information-packed site that includes a discussion forum.