Practice Details

Title of Practice: Inclusive Technology
Year: 2017
BPTag: Good Practice
Reference Number: ARG337-17
City / Town / Village: Buenos Aires City
Region: Latin America and the Caribbean
Country: Argentina
Has this practice been submitted previously? No
Previous Title:
Address: fundafasia@intramed.net
Name of Contact Person: Analia Gutierrez
Email of Contact Person: analiamgutierrez@gmail.com
In the past, people with acquired language disorders were exclusively linked to rehabilitation programs whose duration and frequency were usually determined by factors not connected with their needs: distance, financing, politics. 

This project develops technical aids –apps- which contribute to the rehabilitation and communication of people with acquired language disorders. 

It avoids economic, physical, political, economic and attitudinal barriers.

Key Dates: Key Dates Significance Key Date 1: 10/31/2013 The Ministry of Science, Technology and Productive Innovation funds the development of the first application Key Date 2: 09/26/2014 The first apk is presented to users and relatives Key Date 3: 10/26/2015 The program is chosen as Best Practice in Disability by the National Advisory Commission for Disabled People (CONADIS), which depends from de National Cabinet of Ministers Key Date 4: 05/10/2016 The apk Help Now! is declared of social interest by the Buenos Aires City Legislature
Norminating Organization Details
Name of Organization:
Contact Person:
Type of Organization: Non-Governmental Organisation

There are no partners defined yet.

There are no categories defined yet.

Situation Before the Initiative Began:
In the past, people with acquired language disorders were exclusively linked to rehabilitation programs whose duration and frequency were usually determined by factors not connected with their needs: distance, financing, politics.
There were no proposals whose duration and frequency were aimed to the needs, interests and natural disposition of the person. There were no technical aids for personalized communication (age, culture, capabilities).
Establishment of Priorities:
1-Respond to the rehabilitation and communication demands of the people with acquired language disorders and their families through strategies that would not impose any economic, physical, political or attitudinal barriers
2-Take advantage of the knowledge and resources of users, OSC (Civil Society organizations), State, private companies and universities to design, fund, develop and communicate campaigns
3-Count with free of charge personalized communication and rehabilitation resources according to personal and cultural features (Google) which might be used when, where and as many times as the users want to
4-Get technical aids that would prevent prejudice and stereotypes.
Formulation of Objectives And Strategies:
Objective: Contribute to the rehabilitation and communication of people with acquired language disorders through the development of technical aids that would avoid economic, physical, political economic and attitudinal barriers.
The initiative came from people with acquired language disorders and their families who denounced the limits of funding and of therapeutic achievements and also the lack of technical aids
The possibility emerged as a consequence of State funding lines and the commitment of student and corporative volunteers. The OSCs (Civil Society organizations) took advantage of these resources to channel the demand and to lead a program for the development of communication technology.
Mobilisation of Resources:
The first experience (2013) was funded by the Minister of Science, Technology and Productive Innovation. It was a “Communicator” (Fundafasia-Maná Desarrollos – Universidad Tecnológica Nacional). The 2.0 version was funded in 2015.
We became part of the Project DANE led by the Inclusion Subcommittee of the Chamber of Software Companies and Informatics Services. DANE articulates OSCs linked to intellectual disability with private companies that donate volunteer work and universities. Two apks for rehabilitation were developed: Palabras Claras (Clear Words) and Quién hace qué (Who does what) (Fundafasia-Hexacta); an interactive apk ,” Conversador” (Talker) as the final practical assignment of Informatics Engineering (Fundafasia – Universidad of Buenos Aires) and another two for rehabilitation: A qué suena? (What does it sound like? (Fundafasia –Universidad Tecnológica Nacional) and Qué dijo? (What did he/she say?) (Fundafasia – ORT School).
Another apk ,Ayuda ya! (Help now!) was also developed to alert about emergency situations (Fundafasia- Maná Desarrollos – Universidad Tecnológica Nacional).
Currently, the first apk for oral production is being developed (same team).
Users get training in a workshop called Use of Technology which is coordinated by professionals from Fundafasia and 25 volunteers from the Universidad Tecnológica Nacional. Universidad del Museo Social and the Desir Organization.
The initiative immediately generated enthusiasm in the users’ and their families who shared the first training sessions and kept showing great interest.
There were two signifiant pitfalls
1.Due to their age, most potential users had no previous experience in informatics ; at best, with desktops and just for repetitive tasks.
2.Health funding institutions refused to consider intelligent telephones and tablets as technical aid devices with the same category as those for people with visual or hearing impairments.
The users’ lack of experience was overcome with the creation of a Technological Cabinet for language Dysfunction, with the help of the Regional State that through its specific institution COPIDIS funded the necessary equipment as part of the Program for Strengthening Civil Society (2015).
Fundafasia provided professionalized human resources for group training: 2 linguists, 1 language therapist, and 1 occupational therapist.
The team was in charge of the evaluation, the design of strategies and the management. Several agreements were signed with universities and institutes to collect volunteers for the individual support of the workshop participants.
With regard to the second obstacle, complaints were made in all the multisectoral spaces in which Fundafasia participates: COPIDIS (Government of the City of Buenos Aires), Accessibility Observatory of the Public Defender and the Civil Society Consultative Council of the Foreign Ministry to force health funding institutions to abide by the law that guarantees coverage of technical aids to all the people with disabilities, without exception, that is, also to people with mental and intellectual disabilities.
For evaluation, the linguists use the Assessment Battery for the Analysis of Afasic Deficit (BADA) while the occupational therapist uses the Praxias Test. These tests are complemented with the Neuropsi for the assessment of memory, attention and executive functions. Moreover, the rehabilitation apks were designed to obtain statistic data which will allow an effective follow -up.
In the workshop Use of Technology, a daily and monthly follow up is carried out to register the advance of each participant in the use of technology and of the apks for the support of communication and rehabilitation
The resources of the web make it possibly to know on a weekly basis how many apks are downloaded from Google.
Results Achieved:
From the financial point of view, the integration of the participating actors has permitted the use of existing resources: the State participated through The Council Program of Social Actors Demand (PROCODAS); universities, through planning the final assignment of students; private companies within their social responsibility actions and the OSCs according to their social mission and their assistance programs.
The funds were assigned as planned and the money paid in full and on time.
Besides, it has made it possible for health funding institutions (including the State) to lower costs : group instead of individual training; 4 professionals in charge instead of one for every beneficiary; lower transport costs as the exercises can be done autonomously in any place and at any time, for example in the beneficiary’s private address.
In terms of equality, the program has reached equally both men and women.
As regards inclusion, it has not only developed technical aids and has worked with the beneficiaries to help them learn, but it has also communicated its objectives to the community to promote acceptance. The election of widely used technological equipment such as telephones, tablets and notebooks has made it possible for beneficiaries to feel equal to other users with no disabilities preventing social representations that may act as attitudinal barriers for inclusion.
The Project includes the participation in nets to influence the coverage of equipment for mentally/ intellectually disabled people with the support of State institutions, in compliance with existing laws.
Lessons Learned:
The first lesson learned is that projects should emerge from the recipients as they know what they need even if they have never expressed their demand. In our case, we knew “what” but we did not know “how” as we did not anticipate that the recipients did not have updated technical equipment and experience due to prejudice in their environment.
Another lesson learned is that small ideas, well founded and with clear objectives are convincing. In fact, the project emerged from an application (the Communicator) which addressed the problems of persons with acquired language disorders due to brain lesions focusing on eliminating barriers rather than on their deficits (Convention on the Rights of persons with Disabilities) contributing to the use of technical aids.
The third one is that it is very difficult to move forward when the State does not include projects as part of its policies. In our case, there are two extremes: the State that supported and funded the project on the one hand, and the State that has not yet played its role to guarantee the coverage of technical equipment for persons with mental and intellectual disabilities as it does for people with other “visible” disabilities: motor and sensory .
In the future, or to replicate the experience, we will anticipate more information in order to shorten times. That is, we will extend the evaluation stage. Besides, we will seek more commitment from the State not only for the start- up but also for the sustainability of the project, that in this case, does not mean more development but an increase in the number of users.
The initiative acknowledges as a very powerful stimulus the challenge posed by the Law of Audiovisual Contents in Argentina that promotes the use of accessibility resources on television to persons with visual, hearing and intellectual disabilities. The first two (sign language and closed captions) with experience in their development; the third one with no history.
The search for answers to the needs of persons with linguistic difficulties (not sensory) for communication led to a first attempt of technical aid for contexts more immediate than audiovisual contents: communication in everyday life.
The project has gathered experience from all the individual and social areas in which communication and information technology is expanding. And it has taken into account the difficulty of applying initiatives that might be successful in other parts of the world due to the importance of respecting individual culture and language varieties.
In that sense, the project was based on the personalization of resources, taking into account the contexts and the diversity within the disability.
The initiative can be replicated if the user’s exhaustive evaluation and the articulation of all the actors are respected. The replica requires the attention to a theoretical frame with its focus on the activity and the users’ participation and not on diagnoses; attention to legal frames; creativity for its development; measurement of results.

Related Policies:

This practice is based on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. 

Specifically on: 

 “Recognizing that disability is an evolving concept and that disability results from the interaction between persons with impairments and attitudinal and environmental barriers that hinders their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others” (Preamble)

 “Recognizing the importance of accessibility to the physical, social, economic and cultural environments; to health and education; and to information and communication; and enabling persons with disabilities to fully enjoy all human rights and fundamental freedoms”. (Preamble)

“Communication" includes (…) augmentative and alternative modes, means and formats of communication, including accessible information and communication technology;

 “"Language" includes spoken and sign languages and other forms of non-spoken languages”. (Art 2, Definitions)

“To undertake or promote research and development of, and to promote the availability and use of new technologies, including information and communications technologies, mobility aids, devices and assistive technologies, suitable for persons with disabilities, giving priority to technologies at an affordable cost.” (Art. 4g General Obligations)

No. Title Source Author Publication Title Volume Number Date Page Number
1 Aumentative communication for people with language disorders Innovating for inclusion Science, Technology and Productive Innovation Ministry Innovating for inclusion 1 2015

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