It's high time to improve the quality of life of persons with intellectual disabilities! The Able-to-Include project does just that, through technology and innovation.

This is a guest blog post written by Vanessa Vovor, Communication Officer Inclusion Europe

How to ease online communications for persons with intellectual disabilities

Nowadays, there are technological tools focusing on the inclusion of persons with disabilities, but most of them are not accessible to people with intellectual disabilities, resulting in their exclusion from the information society.

The Able-to-Include project project brings together software developers, universities and organisations working with and for persons with intellectual disabilities, and aims at creating an open-source accessibility layer. This new layer of functionality provides a simplified access to mobile applications and computer programmes. Integrated with existing and future ICT tools, particularly in mobile applications, the accessibility layer will help persons with intellectual disabilities to use social media and other information software.

Three key technologies will be used to reduce the complexity of everyday tasks such as reading work documents, emails, web pages or chats:

  • Text and content simplifier
  • A pictogram-to-text, text-to-pictogram and pictogram-pictogram translation tool
  • Text-to-speech functionalities

Able-to-Include focuses on the most important areas that a person needs to live independently and find fulfilment as an individual: leisure, mobility and employment. Persons with intellectual disabilities have the right to interact with their friends and loved ones in the context of the web 2.0, to travel independently and to access job opportunities. The three key technologies will decode information by making regular written language accessible for persons with intellectual disabilities.

A networking session at ICT 2015

Inclusion Europe and partners of the Able-to-Include project were invited at ICT 2015 event in Lisbon to deliver a networking session on how to help people with intellectual disabilities access the digital world. Our session at ICT 2015 was a huge opportunity for us to introduce Able-to-Include to a wider public, as well as developers, policy-makers and service providers, while informing them on the difficulties people with intellectual disabilities are facing when trying to access technological development.

The attendees, split into small groups, were able to test our different tools, such as converting text into pictograms or into accessible formats.  We discussed the dangers of the internet from the perspective of people with intellectual disabilities, and solutions to increase accessibility. The configuration of the room allowed an important level of interaction, fostering dialogue on what it takes to create accessible software for people with intellectual disabilities, and develop their skills and confidence.

As we are currently in the pilot phase of the development of the accessibility layer, we took advantage of this event to gather comments and suggestions from the participants. We have already started incorporating their feedbacks into our work.

Meeting like-minded individuals, committed to using technology as a tool to create a better world, only reinforced our strong confidence that this project will significantly improve the lives of persons with disabilities.

If you want to know more about our work or you want to share your ideas, get in touch with us:

Able-to-Include website

Able-to-Include Twitter account 

Able-to-Include Facebook page