Introduction of assistive technology in CSRI
Civil Association Alternative 55, a NASO Representation in Stara Zagora, and ASSIST — Assistive Technologies Foundation, a NASO member, are working together on introducing eye-gaze control technology into the services run by the Association. An eye-operated assistive technology device with software was purchased under the Association’s project, funded by ContourGlobal Maritsa East 3. The good partnership between Civil Association Alternative 55 and Stara Zagora Municipality contributed to full realization of the project. The municipality furthered the necessary training programmes designed to prepare specialists and parents for working with the assistive technology device and the forthcoming compilation of an experience-based guide to using the device.
The first training programme took place in Stara Zagora from 31 August to 1 September 2017, involving experts from ASSIST Foundation. “It turned out that we were the first non-governmental organisation that had an interest in the eye-gaze control technology and asked ASSIST Foundation to provide training sessions and help us apply this technology to our social services”, said Ms Anastasia Vasileva, a NASO representative and head of the Association Alternative 55. “We strive to bring all useful innovations in working with children”, she stressed. That’s how they have decided to set up a project aimed at introducing the assistive technology into their work. It is expected that the project will be financed by their primary sponsors and supported by the municipality. They aim to use the assistive technology in their work on a sustainable and lasting basis. ASSIST Foundation is committed to providing support after the training, including online support if needed for specialists working with children in Stara Zagora.
“The results from the first use of eye-gaze control technology are available. A child who cannot speak at all has turned out to have a very rich passive vocabulary and understands everything”, said Ms Vasileva. Because of its efficiency, Association Alternative 55 is planning on using the assistive technology for primary diagnostics, measuring progress in working with children, developing speech and communication skills, improving learning capabilities.
The partnership between Association Alternative 55 and ASSIST Foundation began with the Hello: It’s Me meetings, organized together with NASO and its representations in various regional cities in the autumn of 2016. As a NASO representative for Stara Zagora, the Association had organized an information meeting which aroused a great interest in all the specialists present.
ASSIST Foundation is this year’s winner of NASO annual award for promoting innovation in social services.
The interview with Maurice Grinberg, Chair of ASSIST Foundation, is available on the Social Policies Portal NASOKI.