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Project makes web accessible to mentally disabled

People with mental disabilities are able to access the Internet more easily than ever before thanks to an ingenious new system devised in Switzerland.

The project called "TransArte" has just been awarded a SFr50,000 ($29,700) prize by Pro Infirmis Zurich, which works with disabled people.

The system pioneered by "TransArte" enables users who cannot read and write to interact with their computers using a machine similar to a barcode reader at a supermarket.

Users swipe tokens with different symbols across the face of the machine, and each symbol gives a different order to the computer to access the web, send emails or call up specific sites.

All applications are possible and can be tailor-made for individual users.

The system's inventor, Andres Obrero, an architect from Winterthur, said he was astonished that no one had come up with the idea before.

He added he would use the prize money to develop his concept further and complete a prototype that can be mass-produced.

Some 53 projects were entered for this year's prize whose aim is to promote products which help people with disabilities to integrate. It is the first time the prize has been awarded.

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