Jul 31 2017

Brazil’s ‘F123’ to light up more lives with Expo Live grant to help visually impaired

  • F123 works to empower blind and visually impaired people globally
  • Expo Live grant will help make technology affordable and accessible
  • F123 to develop first free Arabic speech synthesiser adapted for low-cost portable computers
Hand holding a small computer

Hand holding a small computer

F123, a Brazilian social enterprise devoted to improving opportunities for education and employment for the blind and visually impaired, has won an Expo Live grant from organisers of the 2020 World Expo, being held in Dubai in 2020.

F123 has developed a portable, affordable talking computer to help visually impaired people. The idea is to help those suffering from blindness or partial vision by providing them with high-quality, low-cost, multi-lingual software that allows them to live with a degree of personal independence that they could not have otherwise.

F123’s software enables access to education and information, giving people using it the chance to surf the web, work with documents and spreadsheets, and use email and instant messaging on any computer.

It ensures that they stay connected with the world around them, and are able to take on any of the challenges of the modern workplace, giving them a chance to learn and earn.

Expo 2020 Dubai’s Expo Live programme has an allocation of USD 100 million to back projects that offer creative solutions to pressing challenges that impact people’s lives, or help preserve the world – or both. Organisers are looking for projects that would not reach their full potential without its support.

Expo Live is not disclosing the amount for each project it is supporting but has said it would grant up to USD 100,000 per initiative for its Innovation Impact Grant Programme.

Fernando H. F. Botelho, founder of F123, said: “This grant from Expo 2020 Dubai’s Expo Live innovation and partnership programme will enable us to take our work to the next level. As well as developing the world’s first free Arabic speech synthesiser for low-cost computers, we will now be able to speed up our software development process.

“What may have previously taken five years to complete will now be possible in just two or three, which is very exciting for us.

Our objective is to make our software widely available to the 90 percent of the blind who live in developing countries, so this Expo Live funding marks a significant step in helping us achieve our goal.”

World Expos, which trace their origins back to the 1851 Great Exhibition in London, have always celebrated the latest in innovation and technology.

The Expo Live programme was launched in January 2017, following a pilot phase last year. It aims to stimulate innovation that has a social benefit, by supporting winning projects with funding, business guidance and promotion. Successful applicants will also have the chance to showcase their work to many millions of visitors to Expo 2020 Dubai.

Expo organisers received 575 responses to their initial call for proposals. This was whittled down to just 29 winners.

Expo Live Vice-President, Yousuf Caires, said: “Technology is transforming the world around us, and it’s important for that transformation to also benefit people with disabilities like blindness or impaired-vision to enable them to play full and fulfilling roles in our society. F123’s work – inspired by a desire to make a meaningful social impact – is a great inspiration and their aim to produce the first free Arabic – language speech synthesiser for low-cost devices could make a big impact in the Middle East.

“These are real change-makers addressing our world’s most pressing challenges; they are visionaries who are determined to see their projects bring meaningful change to those that need it. We are fortunate to have them on our programme and look forward to walking by their side on their path to success.

“Their work speaks for itself and deserves the financial support from our programme, but it is their character, their drive and their reasons for choosing this path – the path of a change-maker – that earns them a place in our Expo Live family and the opportunity to inspire millions at Expo 2020 Dubai.”

Expo Live’s flagship Innovation Impact Grant programme is open for submission twice a year. The programme supports projects from around the world whose solutions generate social and environmental value and are in line with Expo 2020 Dubai’s subthemes of Opportunity, Mobility and Sustainability. Interested applicants can find out more on: www.expo2020dubai.ae/expo-live

Mar 01 2017

Let’s Build the World’s Most Affordable Talking Computer

For too many blind kids around the world, an affordable talking computer is still not within reach. Please help us find support for our project to build the world’s most affordable talking computer, by “Liking” this pitch for the Holman Prize:

Thank you,

The F123 Team

Jul 27 2016

French Study Shows that 86% of Users of F123 Access Recommend it Highly to Family and Friends

The study, carried out by IMPROVE, an organization dedicated to measuring the social impact of social enterprises, included online surveys and in-person interviews with both blind persons who used and did not use F123 Access. In addition to a very high level of satisfaction with the software, the study also showed that while among those who do not use the F123 Access browser extension, 9.5% need help online very often, that number dropped to just 3.5% for those who do have the extension on their web browsers.

“This valuable study validates what we have observed on the feedback that our users send us on a daily basis. Even so, it is very gratifying to see that it was not just our perception, F123 Access does in fact have a very substantial positive impact on the lives of the blind who use it.”, says Fernando Botelho, President of F123 Consulting.

The English version of the full report on the social impact of F123 Access is available here.

May 25 2016

Why is Web Accessibility Important?

The W3C has just made available a number of videos and other content that eloquently illustrates various situations when web accessibility is important. Check this material out at:


May 13 2016

F123 and Three Other Organizations Run Workshop at the “Women Deliver” Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark


F123 co-founder Fernando Botelho, together with Michaela Leslie-Rule (Global Fund for Women), Jovana Dordevic (FRIDA), and Esther Mwaura-Muiru (GROOTS), will run a workshop called “Technologies to Advance Women’s Human Rights”, at the Women Deliver Conference in Copenhagen. The workshop will be moderated by Musimbi Kanyoro, President and CEO, of the Global Fund for Women, and will take place on Wednesday May 18 at 10:30 a.m..

As eloquently described on the conference guide: “Technology has the power to transform the lives of girls and women. During this session, the audience will not only learn about technologies, but build their own  technology toolkit to advance women’s human rights.”

Women Deliver will have almost 5000 participants, but if you cannot make it to Copenhagen, you can still register to attend online. Our team has not had the opportunity to test the web accessibility of the virtual conference, but if you use a screen reader, we encourage you to install F123 Access (found at https://F123Access.com/), and register to participate at Women Deliver here:

Apr 27 2016

F123 Access Presentation at NVDACon

The organizers of the community-led 10th edition of the NVDA Conference invited F123 Access to present in this international event. You too can listen in. Here is the MP3 file for that presentation.

Apr 08 2016

Youtube Accessibility Package Improved

Thanks to feedback from our users, the Youtube Accessibility Package available to F123 Access users is now better. You will hear the volume level control as you change it. Also, some of the button labels were improved.

If you encounter any difficulties or want to participate with our team and users offering suggestions, asking questions, or sharing your experiences with F123 Access, please join our Google Group. To join, simply send a blank e-mail message to:

Mar 23 2016

F123 Access is at CSUN

The world’s largest assistive technology conference, commonly known as the CSUN International Technology and Persons With Disabilities Conference, takes place this week and you can find F123 Access at Booth 219, next to Google’s booth.

You may also hear a technical presentation of our technology when we present a paper there: “Web Accessibility: Repair in the Browser” this Wednesday, March 23, at 10:00 AM PST.  Please join us, the presentation will be at Hillcrest CD, 3rd Floor, Seaport Tower, San Diego, California.


Mar 01 2016

A new Way to Easily Read Online Newspapers

A new accessibility package is now available to users of F123 Access version 3.0.2 and newer.  This package makes it easier to read online newspapers. We will be expanding the number of newspapers where this package works, but first we would like to know what you think and which newspaper would you like us to prioritize.

You can try the “Easy-Read” package on the following papers: English speakers can try it out on “The Guardian”, Spanish speakers can check out “El Observador”, and Portuguese speakers can try it on “Folha de São Paulo”.

You can switch it on by going to “My Preferences” in the F123 Access menu (Alt+3), and activating the package called: Easy-Read for Newspapers.

To let us know what you think of this latest accessibility package, and suggest additional newspapers, please participate on our F123 Access Google group. To join, please send a blank e-mail to the following address:

Feb 17 2016

New Audio Tutorial on My Preferences Page

José Tamayo has kindly recorded another audio tutorial on F123 Access. This one is about the “My Preferences” page:

We thank José for his latest contribution!

To install F123 Access, please visit:

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