We were inspired by ourselves because some of us are near-sighted and have glasses. So we can somewhat relate to what it feels like to be visually impaired. We also have some relatives that are partially blind, and we wanted to create something that could make their lives easier. We wanted to solve a daily need for people who are visually impaired. After brainstorming a bit, we settled on Hears The News.

What it does

This website provides the world’s top news articles from a wide range of sources (updated daily) and has functionality that reads aloud news articles at the click of a button.

How we built it

We built the website with React, HTML5, CSS3 JS, and Python. To retrieve news sources, we used newsapi (link), and we used the built-in TTS API (link) for the read-aloud functionality.

Challenges we ran into

David doesn’t have experience with React, so it was hard distributing the workload evenly. It was also Herman’s first hackathon, so he had difficulties working in a team environment; however, as time went on, he adapted to his environment and started communicating more effectively. Furthermore, it was very hard to come up with an idea for this hackathon, because none of us know what it’s like to be mentally/physically impaired, so we had to research many common disabilities. Finally, coming up with the UI/UX was challenging, especially because we had to learn how to use Figma for the first time, but once we got comfortable with it, we were quickly able to come up with an effective design.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

We are proud of the TTS and the aesthetics of our website, which took hours to perfect. We’re also proud of how we managed our workload (none of us burned out).

What we learned

We learned how to implement a database, using Firebase as a backend, with our React app. We also learned how to run backend Python scripts to update our database. Furthermore, we learned how to use Figma to collaborate on creating website design prototypes. On a more personal side, we learned how to better manage workload, time-management, and have more effective communication between group members.

What's next for Hears The News

Retrieving news articles in real time instead of every 24 hours would keep the news more up to date and relevant. We’d also like to provide more customizability options such as the ability to change narrators, adjust the speed, alter the tone, etc. Saving news outlet preferences would also help, so that the user experience is more personal, which would mean we’d also need to implement login and registration functionality. Finally, we’d like to introduce mobile versions of the application so that people could listen to their news on the go.

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