News & Events
disABILITY: Staying connected with a life-changing app
In a small knot, right at the front of the hall are a few wheelchairs from where too there is loud laughter, chatter and scenes of endearment such as a mother whispering in her son’s ear.
Crystal clear is who the stars are at this major ‘life-changing’ milestone for many not only in Sri Lanka but also around the world.
The day is World Cerebral Palsy Day (October 6) and it is the launch of the app disABILITY, the first of its kind globally.
The app in Sinhala, Tamil and English includes guided disability and development screening, access to paediatricians, early identification and intervention and therapeutic, educational and rehabilitation assistance for those living with cerebral palsy and other disabilities.
Under a project initiated by the family tea company Dilmah’s MJF Charitable Foundation, MillenniumIT ESP designed and developed this innovative teletherapy app dubbed “unique”. The other partners of the project are Microsoft, Sarva and World Vision Lanka.
The app also allows caregivers to monitor the progress of the person living with a disability, with guidance from the MJF Foundation’s multidisciplinary team.
This team has much experience as it is part of the National Centre for Children with Cerebral Palsy and other Developmental Disorders (NCCCPDD) which opened its doors in 2016 under a joint venture between the MJF Foundation and Cerebral Palsy Lanka. On its heels came two more centres in Kandy and Kalkudah. These three centres along with the Rainbow Centre established in 2012 at Moratuwa daily support around 400 children and youth with disabilities.
Under the leadership of the Head of Rehabilitation Services of the MJF Foundation & NCCCPDD Director, Gopi Kitnasamy, the recent lockdown had propelled therapists and teachers at these centres to innovate to ensure that children maintain the levels of progress made. MilleniumIT ESP had incorporated this innovation into its Health Vision platform, adapting it to suit this need.
The disABILITY app complements the MJF Foundation’s disability advice channel on YouTube in reaching children and people.
While there are around 17 million people with cerebral palsy around the world, Sri Lanka is estimated to have around 40,000 with many more with Down Syndrome or other developmental disorders.
The development of the app began a year before its launch this October, when Microsoft organized a full-day ‘AI for Accessibility’ hackathon in partnership with the MJF Foundation to develop prototypes of Artificial Intelligence (AI) solutions for people with disabilities.
Later Microsoft had provided access to its Azure platform, initiating the collaboration between MillenniumIT ESP and the MJF Foundation. Microsoft Azure is a public cloud computing platform that provides a range of services including computing, analytics, storage and networking, it is understood.
World Vision, meanwhile, is set to pilot the app by introducing it to marginalized communities, sharing knowledge, therapies and services especially with children with disabilities in remote areas of the country where access to transport, regular therapy and other services is limited.
This is while Sarva has designed and produced a national campaign in the form of an infomercial to create public awareness, dispel stigma about disability and share information about the app.
DisABILITY is currently available for Android devices (phones and tablets) on the PlayStore and will shortly be available for Apple devices (iOS) on the Apple App Store. It is built to intuitively provide services based on the age of the person, with only basic skills required to use it.
Anyone may also scan the QRCODE Android and the QRCODE web published in this article to download the app directly.
It was after a chat with the knot of children that the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Dilmah and Trustee of the MJF Charitable Foundation, Dilhan C. Fernando told the media conference that words could not express the excitement at the possibilities in this app.
“It is a collaboration that will enhance the quality of life for thousands. Many families suffer the stigma of people who lack understanding of developmental disorders and their pain is intensified by lack of access to knowledge and advice,” he said, reiterating that they want to extend the service that the MJF Foundation offers in fulfilling the philosophy of his father – Dilmah Founder, Merrill J. Fernando, by delivering these essential therapies and support to people who cannot afford those services.
Extending heartfelt appreciation to all the partners, he added that there is no greater fulfilment for a business than to see its efforts touch the lives of marginalized children and youth.
A message from the heart came from Sarva’s Head of Creative, Nishantha Shantha Deva, who had thought of where he would start from when speaking to the media……..and he started with his home and his twin sister who could not speak but was “harima sanvedi” (very sensitive).
He said that society needs to provide love and care to children with different abilities to make them bloom like the flower-buds do when showered by dew-drops.
The National Director of World Vision Lanka Dr. Dhanan Senathiraja also spoke.
The article was taken from The Sunday Times
The trilingual App is currently available for android phones and tabs on the Play Store and for iOS on the App Store. (Token: mjfcp) To know more about the App, visit http://bit.ly/disABILITY-App-Demo-English