Thursday 21 October 2021

Devices open up new world for children with visual impairment or autism

Life as seen through the eyes of 22 children who are non-verbal, visually impaired or on the autism spectrum is about to change today as they receive tailor-made electronic devices to support the way they communicate and learn.

The money for these costly augmentative communication devices was raised during the Malta Trust Foundation’s first fundraising telethon earlier this year and forms part of its E3 project geared to empower, encourage and educate young children with different abilities.

Foundation chair Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca said the money donated during May’s telethon was going towards tangibly opening up the lives of so many children, who were sometimes locked in their world and unable to communicate.

“These electronic devices are instrumental in helping these children express themselves. These tools will increase their social interaction, school performance, and feelings of self-worth, while helping them reach their full potential,” Ms Coleiro Preca said.

The most sought after product is a speech-generating device that can cost in the range of €6,000 and offers user-friendly features to make speaking fast and easy for individuals with speech impairments.

Several families with children on the autism spectrum or with sensory disabilities were in touch with the Foundation to learn how their children could benefit from these life-changing devices. In turn, the Foundation is in constant contact with professionals and entities, including governmental organisations, to ensure as many children in need are reached.

The Malta Trust Foundation is in fact, in the process of procuring assistive devices for another group of 36 visually impaired children.

Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) intervention for children with complex needs helps develop their functional communication skills, promotes cognitive development, provides a foundation for literacy development and improves social communication.

This E3 project has been running in collaboration with the National Literacy Agency, the Foundation for Inclusive Technology and Accessibility, Agenzija Sapport, the Department of Speech and Language Pathologists, the Association for Speech-Language Pathologists Malta, and the Autism Parents Association-Malta.

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