July 2012

Avaj for Inclusive Education

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A low cost tablet, Avaz gives voice to people with cerebral palsy.
Ajit Narayanan, Founder and CEO, Invention Labs talks about how Avaz caters to communication needs of children with special needsSome four million people in India suffer from cerebral palsy that makes it difficult or impossible for them to speak. Tablets provide particular advantagesto children with special needs because they minimise abstraction. Unlike computers, which require multiple levels of association with abstraction (understanding the motor movement of the mouse, and translating its movement on a screen), tablets avoid these complicated interfaces. You touch an icon, and it opens up: it is simple and easier to process. The cognitive gap that is faced with is significantly reduced. Along with the move to tablets, there has been a parallel surge in the app ecosystem to cater to children with mainstream as well as varied needs. The boom in the number and breadth of ideas out there is highly promising. Avaz is a tablet app that caters to the communicative needs of children with autism and cerebral palsy; about 500 children are using Avaz in India. They are easily able to navigate the customised touch screen, to speak out words, sentences or paragraphs. I have seen non-verbal children around India be able to join classrooms of verbal children because they have an enabling device. By allowing children to give voice to their thoughts and feelings, Avaz has unveiled new horizons of expression and thought for them.





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