PROJECT - Enable everyone to have a voice
Connect excluded people with the multimedia, freely networking, digital world.
Collaborate with autistic people to develop software for affordable Augmentative
and Alternative Communication devices with internet access.
Consider how many misunderstandings there are when people can speak, and how much worse it is when you have no way to speak.! Think about the missed opportunities for valuable new ideas, perspectives, and more when somebody can"t express their thoughts in language—and how much more can be accomplished for the betterment ofeveryone in society when people can communicate, can be understood, can participate and help make the world a better place. It is a ﬁrst essential step towards equality and inclusion.
Addressing communication problems and resulting unmet needs will increase independence, rights, choices and inclusion; reduce boredom, frustration, and in
the long term, costly support. This applies from the most obviously high functioning
individuals to the least.
Employ autistic people to develop open source software for standard portable computing devices (laptops, netbooks, smartphones) as effective, affordable,
Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) aids.
Establish and facilitate working relationships between key developers and people
with communication needs and their staff and family members; create and
maintain an email list and Wiki through which all parties can easily keep in touch.
Distribute 12 XOs 3 and other devices of interest, as potential affordable robust
Voice Output Communication Aids (VOCAs) with internet access; train staff and
family members to provide IT support; maintain regular contact and evaluation.
Develop open source software to create flexible, socially acceptable, easy to use
AAC systems. Software developers will work directly with users to define functionality.
The Team: AAC users in the UK and elsewhere; AutreachIT: two staff
programmers and facilitator/deployment coordinator; external monitor/advisor
(MIT); worldwide network of supporters.
On AAC users: Real inclusion and empowerment through enhanced
communication capacity, confidence, respect, information access, and
employability. Opportunities: to be treated as an equal; to have one’s voice heard;
to make a difference to one’s own life; to make a contribution to society; to be
creative; to network and make friends; to enjoy things both with and without other
people, and have fun.
On AutreachIT’s autistic team: Useful, flexible, employment for a living wage;
benefit to own interest group at large; solidarity with its dispossessed members
and other dispossessed people; taking effective action.
On Providers of social care: Achieving company Aims and Objectives dictated by
Government requirements; having more satisfied, less frustrated, more fully
included service users.
MIT Media Lab
On Society at large: Changed expectations; better understanding;
recognition of capacity; possibility of direct communication; recognition of
individual personhood; recognition of emotions.