CHENNAI: Augmentative and alternative communication method for non-verbal people has helped children at Vidya Sagar to express themselves. The result of the hectic work by a number of organisations has yielded products that help children with neurological disorders and cerebral palsy to communicate.
On Saturday, three children with verbal communication disability handled the launch of the software that would enable others like them to communicate. They used portable devices that work like a mobile phone to communicate.
The students, Bhavana, Shanmugapriya and Santhosh, are studying at Vidya Sagar, a non-governmental organisation that works with children with cerebral palsy and other neurological disabilities.
Bhavana has cerebral palsy and can communicate only with her eyes. Now she uses a non-contact switch to activate her computer and expresses her needs. Santhosh uses software that allows him to build sentences based on a built-in vocabulary.
He has to merely click on the mouse to get the letter of the alphabet he wants. The computer will come up with a number of words that he may want to use and Santhosh clicks on the words to form sentences.
Shanmugapriya, with better skills, understands pictures best.
She uses animated pictures to express herself.
The entire effort was the hard work of techies, students, faculty and technicians of the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras (IIT-M), besides a host of others who helped design the product. Called Hope, Kavi and Aditi, the three products are diverse and almost custom-made for the youngsters at Vidya Sagar.
Kavi enables the user to hear the programme as it scans the software while the communicating partner only hears the sentence when it is completed. Santhosh uses this software.
Slate, the picture communication aid, is a literacy aid for children in 5 to 15 age group that connects the child with school (special or mainstream). The product can be used for inclusive education and was designed by Arathi Abraham, alumna of National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad.
Aditi allows students like Bhavana with motor limitations to independently control their communication devices.
IIT-M director M.S. Ananth formally launched the products in the presence of Vidya Sagar’s well-wishers, faculty and staff. Kalakshetra students presented dance as a concept of non-verbal communication.