Tuesday 20 August, 2019

IGT donates software to assist persons living with autism

Children of the Gift of Hope Home in Manchester take a moment to observe the features on new iPad equipped with an assistive learning programme donated by IGT.

Children of the Gift of Hope Home in Manchester take a moment to observe the features on new iPad equipped with an assistive learning programme donated by IGT.

May is Child Month in Jamaica, and this month’s theme: “Encourage, Enable, Include ME!” very much aligns with IGT Jamaica’s ongoing drive toward assisting students living with Autism through technology.

As part of its After School Advantage (ASA) programme, IGT Jamaica recently donated a new assistive learning programme to Mustard Seed Communities.

The equipment, valued at over $250,000, was presented at the Gift of Hope children’s home in Spur Tree, Manchester recently. Several residents at the home are living with the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

The equipment consists of a Tobii Dynavox Speech Case and an iPad, which work together to provide a unique solution for communication. With clear audio and lightweight, user-friendly design, the Speech Case transforms the iPad into an Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) device that enhances listening and speaking abilities.

Administrator at Gift of Hope Ann-Marie Parker-Dale said residents on the autism spectrum are all non-verbal.

“We want to communicate with them, and they with us,” she said. “We have worked out a way to communicate, but it is mostly trial and error.”

She pointed out that the children often get frustrated and express themselves through their behaviour. This new equipment is designed to supplement existing speech; in many cases, at Gift of Hope, it will replace speech where it is absent altogether.

Parker-Dale believes that this technology will transform the residents’ lives in terms of communication.

Gift of Hope was first a recipient of computer technology and equipment through IGT’s ASA programme in June 2016.

IGT Jamaica’s General Manager Debbie Green emphasized the company’s ongoing commitment to providing technology and learning solutions for children who would not normally be able to access them. Five Mustard Seed homes are now equipped with ASA Centres.

“We remain motivated and committed to continue strengthening our relationship with Mustard Seed by providing technology solutions for their students and residents that face particular challenges. This specialized equipment meets a critical need, and is not readily available in Jamaica,” said Green.

“We have seen where technology has enriched the learning experience for those with special needs. It is also an empowering tool for their dedicated teachers and caregivers. For this year’s Child Month, with its inclusive and empowering theme, we are proud to continue building our support by donating this software, designed for our very special children with ASD.”

 

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