ICT for persons with mental challenges Professor Arun Mehta President, Bidirectional Access Promotion Society (bapsi.org)

ICT for persons with mental
Professor Arun Mehta
President, Bidirectional Access
Promotion Society (bapsi.org)
• Persons with mental challenges have primarily
communication disabilities, so communication
technologies have a role
• Computers can be easier to work with than human
beings -- they are more consistent and patient, while
not prone to moods
• If you cannot communicate, teachers cannot teach you,
doctors have a hard time treating you, society ignores
you (or worse)
• The problem: each mentally challenged person has a
unique combination of abilities and disabilities
• With delayed development, you get behavior that
is not age appropriate, so if we can get the child
to start communicating via the computer when
still just a few years old, maybe the child has
some chance of obtaining an education
• Usually, we assume a person is literate, before we
teach her computers. A child with mental
challenges may need to learn how to use a
computer in order to become literate
• The software needs to be highly customizable
• We created a platform that makes it very easy to add new
• Each module does a small, specific task
• First step: pick the combination of modules you need for a
specific task
• Two button operation: One button to switch between
• In each module, the software highlights each choice by turn
• With the other button, you can say "yes" to a choice, by
pressing it when the choice you like is highlighted
Module Example: Deleting Text
Low cost two-button input device
• A thin spring in a fat spring: when they touch,
a signal goes to the computer
• Works for children with very little strength in
their muscles (e.g. cerebral palsy)
• Simple physical movements work for children
with autism
• ("Brain Behavior Connections in Autism",
Nancy Minshew, Diane Williams)
Free and open source software:
addressing the supply side
• Depending on the specific needs of individual
children, we need to keep adding modules
• At BAPSI, we encourage students seeking
practical training in "agile" software writing to
work with us on this
• We put their names at the bottom of the
modules they helped with, which helps them
get jobs (software can be used without
installing at skid.org.in)
Demonstration of picture browser and
recognize modules

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