The Illiteracy Simulator

Inspired by Pearson’s Project Literacy VR installations, I set out to prototype a method for anyone to empathize with illiteracy though direct experience using a similar VR mechanic. I also wanted to make it accessible to anyone, including those without a VR headset.

The insight is that our literacy is something we take for granted until we travel abroad and realize even basic things, like making sense of a street sign, are nearly impossible when we can’t read the text. Using a piece of non-Google cardboard, a scissors, two rubber bands, and the Google Translate app set to a language I don’t understand, The Illiteracy Simulator was born.

A simple instructable would make The Illiteracy Simulator accessible to anyone using only household materials, helping to provide a lens into how the world might feel to those living with illiteracy. And since the Translate app uses an AR (augmented reality) overlay for it’s real-time translation, the device can be used in real-world locations to give us a sense of what illiteracy might feel like in a location where we would never be able to experience it otherwise.

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