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Mastering ICT with disabilities

Students of the Indian Institute of Cerebral Palsy, Kolkata, are mastering technology despite disabilities. IICP has taken to Information Communication Technology (ICT), especially assistive technology hardware and software, to empower children with cerebral palsy and neuro-muscular impairments under its fold and to facilitate their integration with mainstream society. IICP deals with children with severe access and speech problems. Developing appropriate, culturally-relevant hardware and software applications indigenously for those with cerebral palsy and neuro-muscular impairments has not been easy. It has involved an assessment of individual children’s physical access, cognitive levels and a comprehensive assessment of a student’s needs. Now, on the hardware side, there are switches that are attached to ordinary mouse adaptor boxes, key guards on keyboards to facilitate hand control, head-pointers and sticks that one can hold and point with. Access switches have also been developed indigenously. Software in English and vernacular languages has been developed for providing a writing medium. In collaboration with Webel Mediatronics Ltd, software has been developed for facilitating writing by using picture symbols. A digital picture library with navigation software has also been developed. Picture symbols are being used to frame “natural language sentences that are semantically correct”. Today, IT-empowerment at IICP is aimed at providing normal IT education, albeit with the use of special hardware and software access devices.

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