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India launches ICT lab for disabled children

22 September 2009

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Commemorating International Software Freedom Day on September 19, an Indian NGO launched the first ICT lab for disabled children. The activity lab equipped with educational softwares will develop simple games for autistic children to help them learn and communicate.

The first-of-its-kind ICT activity lab for children with autism and other disabilities has been opened in the capital city.

Image credits: Express Buzz/ Lab for autistic children launched

The lab has been set up entirely on Free Software by Insight, which aims to use Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for the development of the differently-abled in the State.

The lab was inaugurated by Vivek, a physically-challenged boy, on Saturday, on the occasion of the International Software Freedom Day, 2009. The lab has been set up at the Insight office at Vellayambalam here and will be open to public except on Sundays.

"Educational software have been found to be useful in building learning capabilities and communication skills of autistic children"

The programme seeks to explore the use of various digital technologies to enhance learning and communication of children with disabilities.

Educational software such as GCompris and programming interfaces such as Scratch have been found to be very useful in building the learning capabilities and communication skills of autistic children.

“As of now, the lab is an experimental one. We will monitor the way children use these softwares.

What are the activities that distract them or interest them will be located and documented and with the added suggestions from parents and doctors, new custom software will be developed. It is time-consuming and a constant programme,” said James Mathew, Insight co-ordinator.

There are many children with autism who find it hard to maintain direct eye contact. The lab will try to develop simple games through which such children will learn to establish eye contact. Similarly, autistic children show love to certain animals, so games using these animal figures will be developed, James said.

Insight has been providing the ICT training and resources for the visually-challenged people in the State since May 2007. The lab will be a continuation of its initiative to extend the benefits of the ICT to people with disabilities.

Insight is a joint initiative of KSITM (Kerala State Information Technology Mission) and SPACE (Society for Promotion of Alternative Computing and Employment).

The KSITM provides the financial support for the project and SPACE provides the technical and managerial assistance.

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