2 screenshots of the Bubbly app: three word choices on the left and a word bubble on the right; Award screen with correct word in the word bubble and confetti on the screen

Bubbly: New CVI literacy app!

Announcing the release of the FREE CVI literacy app, Bubbly!

Updated 1/11/23; originally published 12/6/22. Recently, when trying to download Bubbly in the App Store an error message appeared. The issue has been resolved and Bubbly is available once again! Remember, Bubbly is an iPad app only and is not available for iPhones.

What if there was a letter and/or word bubble app for students with CVI? I am “bubbling” with excitement over the recently released, FREE iOS app, Bubbly! Bubbly is a literacy game created specifically for emerging and beginner readers with CVI. Based on the popular word bubble tool, the interactive Bubbly app brings word bubbling to life!

Why we use word bubbling

CVI is a brain-based visual impairment caused by damage to the visual pathways or visual processing areas of the brain. Students with CVI benefit from word bubbling, the process of highlighting the shape of a letter or word. The student focuses on the shape of the letter or word as a tool to help recognize the letter or word. The Roman Word Bubbling Tool is a popular online tool that enables an educator to type in a letter or word and create a customizable word bubble. These customized word bubbles can be printed and/or used in digital resources for students with CVI. The Bubbly app takes word bubbling to a whole new level!

Customizing Bubbly

App Team Carolina released the Bubbly CVI app in December 2022. The game is simple in design and provides educators numerous customization options. With the quick set up, choose from the three available lists, (Letters, Kindergarten Sight Words and CVC Words) and check which letters/words will be used in the game. Next, select the format of the desired words (capitalized letters, small letters, or only first letter capitalized). Then, choose the number of rounds per game play. Now you are ready to start the game!

Video 1: Bubbly CVI app: Intro

Does your student need additional customization? No problem! Go to the Settings page where you can choose:

Video 2: Bubbly CVI app: Settings

Note: Under Bubble Options, the color ‘yellow’ is available if “Ignore Increase Contrast” is turned on. Yellow might be a good option with a black background. Currently, only a white background is available in settings; however, a black background is an option if the iPad’s built-in Invert Colors feature is turned on. Invert Colors can be turned on in Settings, using Siri, or if set as an Accessibility Shortcut. When using the iPad’s native black background, in the Bubbly app under Bubble Options, turn ignore “increase Contrast” off and a yellow-gold bubble color is available.

Another option for the iPad’s native black background is: Settings > Display and Brightness > Dark Mode.

[Image 1: Screenshot of the the iPad’s native Invert Colors and Bubbly’s setting options.

Preview with the word "Get" in white letters, yellow word bubble and black background.


Bubbly is designed for students with CVI – meaning it is a visual app. Word bubbling is a visual literacy tool and is not used accessible with a screen reader. Bubbly’s buttons and settings are accessible with VoiceOver.

Behind the scenes: Building Bubbly

App Team Carolina is a computer science club at the University of North Carolina. For the past year and a half, the App Team Carolina members have been diligently working on the Bubbly app. App Team Carolina provides Carolina computer science students the opportunity to improve their iOS programming skills by working with real clients and experiencing the rewarding process of bringing the client’s vision to life! The idea for Bubbly came from Anitha Muthukumaran, a practicing TSVI and a Ph.D. student at the University of Northern Colorado. Bubbly started as Anitha’s externship project working in collaboration with Diane Brauner. Emily Cantilion, a TSVI with Perkins Community Programs, also provided insightful feedback through the app development. A heartfelt thank-you to all the incredible App Team Carolina members!

Note: These dedicated App Team Carolina members take on projects that are outside of their normal university coursework. Bubbly was created at no cost and is freely available in the App Store.

Please rate Bubbly in the App Store. Ratings support apps – including university projects like Bubbly! Do you have suggestions or comments about Bubbly? Write a review in the App Store, contact the App Team Carolina website, or contact Paths to Technology at [email protected]


Additional CVI-related resources

Written by Diane Brauner

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