Including everyone in social communication.

I dropped in to the Trinity Centre for People with Intellectual Disabilities last week, to listen to a presentation by Pablo Rodruigez Herrero, a visiting academic from the University of Madrid.  The topic of his talk was the Promentor UAM-PRODIS project, a university programme for people with intellectual disabilities.  Promentor follows in the footsteps of other international programmes which provide opportunities for experiencing university life, such as Think College (USA), Up the Hill Project (Australia), and On Campus (Canada) – which has been running since 1987, and was replicated in Finalnd (Kampus) until 2000.  Instead, I want to mention some interesting technologies that Pablo introduced during his talk.

Able to Include is an EU funded project based in the University of Leuven.  Their ultimate goal is to produce an open source Software Developer Kit that will encourage the introduction of an accessibility layer for people with Intellectual Disabilities, in any software development environment.


They are working on some very interesting apps which focus on the most important areas that a person needs to live independently: to socialize in the context of the web 2.0, to travel independently, and to be able to work.  These include apps which use text to pictures, simplified text, and text to speech and apply these to email (Kolumba), social networking (Social Network App), and face to face communication (PictoChat).picto-text-and-text-to-speech

These are still in development and demo versions only are available for the moment, but if you have a budding developer / coder in your house, the code and documentation are available from their GitHub account.

The Prodis Foundation have also developed a series of six booklets to support young people in living independently.  Currently these are only available in Spanish, although they plan to develop English language versions.  These are free to download by opening the iBooks app on your phone, selecting the search option, and typing ‘fondacion prodis’ into the search bar.


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In the meantime, Rob Laffan is an app developer from Ireland who has devised TippyTalk, an augmentative and alternative communication aide (AAC) that he designed to support his daughter who is non-verbal, and has a diagnosis of autism.



TippyTalk allows you to customize the app with a personalized image bank that has meaning for your child or young person, and to translate these into personalized text messages, which are then sent to the phone or tablet of a family member or a carer.  The app is available to download for both Android and iPhone, and even better, you can access a free 30 day trial of the full version.  You can find out more about Rob and Sadie’s story from their website.

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