The challenges that students with disabilities face in the classroom may seem insurmountable, especially those who cannot communicate verbally.
A lack of voice can not only hinder their ability to learn effectively, but also lead to social exclusion, among other issues.
But technology is quickly changing that.
One small step for mankind
Carlos Pereira has developed Livox, an app that serves as an alternative communication software that allows non-verbal people with disabilities to communicate and learn.
The former computer analyst has a daughter with cerebral palsy, but Pereira’s software uses special algorithms to interpret motor, cognitive and visual disorders, as well as machine learning to predict and understand what the person might want or need, reported the World Economic Forum (WEF).
The app takes into consideration the subtle nuances that make app tapping unique to individuals with disabilities through its intelligent algorithms.
Individuals with motor disabilities may touch an icon on the screen using their whole hand, drag their fingers and make frequent involuntary touches; but Livox corrects their imperfect touch, thus allowing them to use the software.
The app can also predict what needs or words are likely to be used in a variety of situations.
You may ask, “What would you like for breakfast,” and the app would provide several popular options, usually as icons to be tapped and then turned into an audible voice if required. In school, they can hear a teacher’s question, and provide multiple choice answers to be selected.
The longer it is used by a particular person, the more the software will understand and predict the desired response.
Giving disabled students a voice
In the US, parents and teachers at Freedom Elementary said the app has been transformative for their special needs students.
After several weeks of using the device, parent Michael Mote, Sr was quoted saying by WLKY:
“We’re just happy that he’s been given the opportunity from the school district to be able to communicate with his peers, and with his teachers about what his likes and dislikes are, and what he wants. It opens up a lot of pathways for him.”
Meanwhile, Samantha James, a special education teacher at Freedom Elementary, opined that the app has been “amazing,” adding that it “puts the child’s needs first”.
James has programmed the app for one of her students’ needs.
“I went through the cafeteria and programmed all the food choices in there for him. So, that way, when he goes up there, he can look at the pictures and pick which one he wants,” she said.
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