Innovation: Bridging the Communication Gap
By Krystle Nguyen
Goal 4: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
Goal 9: Build resilient infrastructure, promote sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
According to the United Nations, more than a billion people around the world live with some form of disability and this group forms the world’s largest minority. Collectively, people with disabilities tend to experience greater degrees of workplace discrimination and economic hardship. Worldwide, people with disabilities present worse health prospects, lower levels of educational attainment, economic participation and higher poverty rates as compared to people without disabilities. This partly due to the fact that people with disabilities face barriers in accessing services, especially when they can’t communicate orally.
Inclusion Without Borders (IWB) is a non-profit organization based in Orlando, Florida. Their goal is to include people with disabilities in society through technology and their mission is to create equal opportunities for everyone.
Carlos Peirera’s daughter was born with cerebral palsy and he was unsatisfied with the treatment and assistive technology currently in the market. He created a new software to help his daughter and anyone with communication disabilities to communicate with the world around them.
Livox is a user-friendly and customizable software that enables people with cognitive impairment and no speech ability to communicate. It has algorithms for motor, cognitive and visual disorders and has different interfaces depending on the user's disability. Livox’s biggest challenge was to create something that will improve the lives for a wide range of people with disabilities. To address this challenge, “Intellitouch” was developed to calculate how many fingers are touching the screen and detect how people with disabilities intend to use the software.
In the speech and language impairment world, Livox falls under the umbrella of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC). The software enables people to communicate more quickly and initiate conversations more easily despite conditions such as autism, stroke, cerebral palsy or even cancer.
For most of the people around the world living with some form of disability, treatment remains out of reach and financially prohibitive. Alternative communication devices can be big, sophisticated, and expensive. Livox’s application is up to 4,000% cheaper than current medical solutions available. Livox’s software can be downloaded on an Android device and this has made it simpler for anyone with a communication disorder to get access to assistive technology.
Livox was first used in Brazil and is now widely used as an alternative communication application in schools, hospitals, and rehabilitation centers. The software is now helping more than 20,000 people with disabilities worldwide. Google.org learned about the Livox’s story and awarded Inclusion Without Borders a grant as part of the Google Impact Challenge: Disabilities. The grant brought Carlos Pereira’s family and his team to Orlando, where he will continue to develop solutions for augmentative and alternative communication.
Inclusion Without Borders