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How Assistive Tech is Breaking Communication Barriers for Children with Cerebral Palsy

How Assistive Tech is Breaking Communication Barriers for Children with Cerebral Palsy

It is important to recognize the health and wellness disparities that some children with disabilities face. Cerebral palsy is one of the most common of all childhood disabilities and malpractice birth injuries, and it can cause a number of complications. Among these, an important one is difficulty communicating. This can prevent a child from getting good healthcare, from socializing with peers, and from learning. Assistive technology is changing how these children communicate to help them live happier, healthier lives.

Assistive Technology for Cerebral Palsy

Assistive technology is any device, equipment, or software that helps someone perform an activity. For instance, a wheelchair or walker is an example of simple assistive technology that can help a child with cerebral palsy get from one place to another. Technology that helps with eating, breathing, using pens and pencils, reading, writing, and communicating with others is considered assistive technology and has the potential to improve communication, academic performance, self-confidence, self-sufficiency, and overall health.

Augmentative and Alternative Communication

Also known as AAC, augmentative and alternative communication refers to any way of communicating other than verbally speaking. AAC can be low-tech, including sign language or using pictures, but newer technologies are making AAC more practical, faster, and easier for children with physical disabilities like cerebral palsy communicate their needs and emotions:

  • Electronic communication boards and tablets help children with limited fine motor skills or speech use pictures, letters, and words on a screen to communicate.
  • Speech-generating devices use the same types of cues as communication boards but also translate them into verbal speech that other people can easily understand.
  • Eye-tracking devices help even the most severely disabled children communicate. Using just eye movements a child can select images, letters, and words to speak with others.
  • Hearing aids are always advancing technologically and can help children with cerebral palsy that have resulting hearing impairments. A cochlear implant can even bypass damaged components of the ear, improving hearing.

Benefits of Communication and Assistive Technologies

A child with cerebral palsy may have a whole range of complications, from mobility limitations to difficulty eating and breathing, to behavioral disorders. Communication aids are essential for many of these children to maintain good health as well as overall well-being. At the most basic level if they cannot communicate pain, symptoms, hunger, difficulty breathing, or thirst, their health suffers. Better communication means better health.

Beyond their basic health needs, being able to communicate allows children to participate more fully in all areas of life from school and sports to family conversations. Improving communication increases self-confidence, independence, opportunities, social skills, and so much more. Assistive technology is always evolving, and it has become an important part of the lives of nearly all children with cerebral palsy.

Thanks to our friends around the world for providing the text for this this blog.

WITSA Logo and title of paper

ICT Leadership in Inclusive Employment of Persons with Disabilities

SourceAmerica and the World Information Technology Services Alliance have announced the release of their joint paper ‘ICT Leadership in Inclusive Employment of Persons with Disabilities: An Economic and Social Imperative‘.

As Information and Communications Technology touches nearly all aspects of human life, the technology sector can play a vital role in addressing the persistent unemployment of persons with disabilities. The paper and accompanying policy recommendations address the social and economic imperatives of employment of persons with disabilities and lay out a roadmap for the ICT sector to grow as leaders in supporting the employment of persons with disabilities.

Please share this paper and the accompanying press release with your networks and partners.

WACA certificate

Website Accessibility Certificate Austria announced

The first independent quality seal in Austria for barrier-free websites has been announced. From now on, the  Österreichische Computer Gesellschaft (OCG) (Austrian Computer Society) can award a seal to organisations that comply with detailed accessibility requirements.

The “WACA” certificate was developed by the OCG in cooperation with an expert consortium consisting of scientists from the University of Linz, employees of the Hilfsgemeinschaft der Blinden und Sehschwachen Austrian, myAbility and the Vereins Accessible Media (Accessible Media Association), as well as experts from digital agencies.

Advisory board smiling and holding the certificate

Advisory board members: from left to right: Wolfgang Leitner (Zensations), Michael Aumann (GF myAbility), Rhea Göschl (auditor, myAbility), Werner Rosenberger ( OCG, project manager WACA), Jo Spelbrink and Wolfram Huber (both Accessible Media).

The initiative has been launched following a pilot project carried out with the food company REWE International AG.

After a successful audit, the WACA certificate will be awarded by the OCG in three grades – Gold, silver or bronze for two years, after which re-certification is necessary. WACA approved websites are visually awarded by the WACA label.

FInd out more by reading the full press release (German language only).

Be part of the purple revolution

Be part of the Purple Revolution!

#PurpleLightUp

3rd December, International Day of Persons with Disabilities was launched in 1992 by the United Nations, it is now globally recognised as a day that brings together a united voice to celebrate and empower disabled people. #PurpleLightUp powered by PurpleSpace will amplify millions of voices around the world.

#PurpleLightUp aims to celebrate the economic power of persons with disabilities around the globe.

In 2017, 56 major organisations across 66 countries celebrated #PurpleLightUp in some way. For 2018, corporations and public bodies are already lining up and will be flying purple flags and ‘purpling’ their websites.

Get involved by joining in with a range of options including lighting up iconic buildings and bridges, office buildings, cooking purple cupcakes, purple dress codes, purple flags, boats blogs or bows on dogs! Go wherever your purple imagination takes you!

Make sure you tell Purple Space your plans and ideas as you work towards December 3. Get in touch with Sarah Simcoe, #PurpleLightUp Design and Engagement Lead: sarah@purplespace.org.

Find out more by visiting the Purple Space website.

The Disability Matters Logo - Silhouettes of persons with disabilities rising on a ramp

2018 Disability Matters Europe Award Honorees Selected

Springboard Consulting have announced the Award Honorees for the 2018 Disability Matters Conference.

Marketplace: Dans Le Noir?

Workplace: Cisco Systems BV, Dow Europe GmbH, UniCredit Bank Austria AG

Workforce: Delhaize Serbia, Pandora Production Co., Ltd

Steps-to-Success: Barilla G&R Flli spa

The Honorees represent the Gold Standard when it comes to the commitment required, and actions necessary, to successfully mainstream disability in the European workforce, workplace and marketplace.

The winners will be honoured at Springboard Consulting’s 6th annual Disability Matters Europe Conference & Awards between 5th and 7th November 2018 in Horgen.

In addition to celebrating the success of the Honorees, attendees of the conference will be further educated by subject matter experts across the spectrum of disability.

Find out more on the Disability Matters website.

 

GAATES logo

Get certified as a Built Environment Consultant!

GAATES (Global Alliance on Accessible Technologies and Environments) are offering the International Certification of Accessibility Consultants – Built Environment. The certification program identifies applicants as leaders in the field of accessibility, with the technical knowledge and experience to appropriately apply universal design in the built environment.

To achieve the certification, participants will go through a rigorous assessment of skills and experience including professional history, education, a questionnaire and sign off of GAATES Code of Ethics.

Find out more by visiting the GAATES website.

Banner for Lead20@MIT: Are you an Influencer? Dates May 12 to 17 Cambridge, MA

Join the unique LEAD20@MIT program!

Ruderman Family Foundation have joined forces with MIT Sloan School of Management to create a unique new program for persons with and without disabilities – “LEAD20@MIT Leadership in the Digital Age”. This program will equip influencers and leaders from all over the world with theories and strategies in the fields of digital leadership, networking and entrepreneurship, and help them become high impact social influencers.

The program will take place between May 12-17, 2019 at MIT University in Cambridge, MA.
Participants will receive a full scholarship from the Ruderman Family Foundation that will cover all costs and expenses: tuition, travel to Boston and back, lodging and accommodation.

This is a selective program and only 25 people will be admitted. Participants will receive a certificate from MIT at the end of the program.

Find out more by visiting the website.

The Disability Rights Fund Logo

Disability Rights Fund 2018 Request for Proposals

The Disability Rights Fund (DRF) have announced the opening of a request for proposal for applications from DPOs in Rwanda, and Pacific Island countries: Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu.

The broad objective of the Fund is to support persons with disabilities around the world to build diverse movements, ensure inclusive development agendas, and achieve equal rights and opportunity for all. DRF has granted more than USD 28 million to 331 different organisations in 36 countries since 2008.

Depending on the size and type of organisation, grants are available from USD 5,000 to 100,000. Check out the DRF website for more information and to make your application!

Deadline closes on 22nd August 2018!

 

Stacy Cervenka, Conchita Hernández and Red Szell

Congratulations to the 2018 Holman Prize Winners!

Congratulations to the three incredible winners of this year’s Holman Prize, from LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired. The Holman Prize for Blind Ambition awards $25,000 to projects that embody a sense of adventure. Three exceptional blind individuals will set off around the world on adventures they never imagined possible. This year, the winners will promote blind empowerment in Mexico, complete a dramatic oceanic triathlon, and develop the first online community for blind travel.

Find out more by visiting the LightHouse website.

We look forward to hearing about their adventures in the coming year!

Youtube screenshot of a long flat path in semi-rural Telemark, Norway

More accessible footpaths for Telemark!

Telemark’s program of upgrading footpaths rolls on! A new 600-metre path has been completed in Drangedal municipality and there are plans to extend further this summer! Users can benefit from the outdoors by following the path of a disused railway line. The program has already seen footpaths improved in 12 of the 18 districts of Telemark, allowing users of various abilities to benefit from using flat, wide, stable footpaths which in many cases connect urban areas to rural areas, allowing locals and tourists to enjoy the great Norwegian outdoors! This multi-stakeholder approach continues at pace and we are very pleased to hear (and see) the progress.

Find out more by visiting the factsheet on the Zero Project website or by reading how the footpaths give meaning to life for Anne-Lise Dahl.