Academic journal article Current Politics and Economics of South and Central America

Social and Technological Advances for People with Disabilities in Colombia

Academic journal article Current Politics and Economics of South and Central America

Social and Technological Advances for People with Disabilities in Colombia

Article excerpt

1. INTRODUCTION

This chapter addresses some advances in social and technological environment for people with disabilities in Colombia, in especial, experiences in the Stimulation, Leveling and Development Center CEDESNID*, a nonprofit institution that serves about 500 people in disability status or rights violation providing them protection and professional care. This work is focusing in two areas, on one hand, the social and educational inclusion of this kind of people, and on the other hand, technological changes and innovations related to voice therapy and early stimulation.

As professionals specialized in direct intervention in people with cognitive disabilities, the Cedesnid's team considers very important to know some aspects from patients like needs, daily live, accomplishments and futures goals in order to achieve better therapeutic interventions. In this way, the knowing, analysis and implementation of public policies governing cognitive disability in Colombia, as well as related policies in other developing countries, become in an important strategy which contributes to general well-being of the patients. Furthermore, one part that supports and complements the daily work of therapists is the technological part, thus, it is necessary to review different technical, scientific and social trends related to disabilities in order to benefit the patients, and at the same time, to understand the evolution of this phenomenon as a concept, as a social issue and as a phenomenon of knowledge. From this framework it is possible to deepen in the knowledge of the elements that link the needs of people with cognitive disabilities to academic and scientific advances and to social trends to satisfy these needs. Within this process it is necessary to understand proposals for action from the government and the scientific community in order to facilitate progress that integrates all of these different aspects and that results in the development and quality of life of people with this kind of disabilities. Also is important to mention that at this moment the Colombian Ministry of Health is in the process of reviewing public policy on disability for renewal, and that Colombia has ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, thus, is evident that now a days exist sufficient mechanisms to satisfy the needs of this population in Colombia. At the same time, Colombia is experimenting positive changes in public policies on science, technology and innovation which promote initiatives and ideas with high social impact. About technological changes and innovations, Cedesnid is leading a project of research, development and innovation in free tools for voice therapy and multisensorial rooms for people with deep cognitive disabilities.

The project is founded by Colciencias, the Colombian entity that supports research and development initiatives in academic and business sectors. The aim of the project is to continue with the previous work of the computer-aided voice therapy tool called PreLingua. This tool is a set of free activities for providing interactive voice therapy to a population of individuals with voice disorders. The interactive tools are designed to train voice skills like: voice production, intensity, blow, vocal onset, phonation time, tone, and vocalic articulation for Spanish language. The development of these interactive tools along with the underlying speech technologies that support them requires the existence of speech processing, whose algorithms must be robust with respect to the sources of speech variability that are characteristic of this population of speakers. Currently the tool is used by more than 9200 therapist in 14 countries where the social impact is significant. In a previous study, PreLingua was applied in 27 patients of Cedesnid and the results show that the tool had certainly improved the voice skills of many of them according to the assessment of the therapists. However, the tool requires the improvement of its algorithms, the increase of its robustness, the development of an especial section in order to attend adult people and others tasks proposed by the therapist. …

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