The Authority for Social Contribution, Ma’an – a recently launched government entity in Abu Dhabi, UAE, aims to help deliver solutions for social challenges as well as encouraging community participation and involvement.
They have announced the 10 social entrepreneurs to join their very first program – the Ma’an Social Incubator.
One of these is Key2Enable, an assistive technology empowering People of Determination to use tablets, computers and smartphones with adapted hardware and accessories
We spoke to Jose Rubinger and Maria Clara Rubinger, members of Key2enable and asked them about their project.
1. What type of people of determination that this technology addresses?
Our technology is primarily intended for people with severe motor and physical disabilities (Cerebral Palsy, ALS, Spinal Cord Injury, Parkinson’s Disease, Stroke Sequelae, Muscular Dystrophy etc.). It also covers people with Down Syndrome, some degrees of Autism, and mental health issues. Among several success stories, we have Julia, who became the best math student in her classroom among all her regular classmates, and Alisson who made the dream of writing a book come true. He is 12 years old and he was born with Cerebral Palsy and cannot talk, walk or hold a pencil, but with our solution, in less than one month he started expressing himself and became our best “writer”!
2. What exactly is the new tech being introduced on the tables, smart phones or computers?
Key-X was designed to suit a wide variety of disabilities and for many different accessibility purposes, from teaching math to a child with Down´s Syndrome to allowing a computer scientist with cerebral palsy to code. For the last four years, we have been improving the Key-X device to make it even more accessible. We also have a powerful communication and learning software solution with Gamification technology, and when used with Key-x empowers these individuals to always want more. Talking about other market solutions, we are proud to say that almost all the manufacturers are now implementing inside their Smartphones and tablets, inclusive solutions that make it easier for some kind of disabilities to be able to use technology.
3. How important is technology to people of determination to enable them to express their ideas, vision, and to put them into action?
People of Determination have dreams, like us. They want autonomy and knowledge. They want to connect with the world and with other people. Our Assistive technology solution has a high social and humanitarian impact, and through it, we will solve one of the greatest world challenges. The goal of our innovative company is to use exponential technologies to give autonomy and plenty of possibilities to people with motor and intellectual disabilities all around the world. By developing this device that enhances digital accessibility, we will empower people with disabilities to develop their skills and individualities.
4. What positive impact will the technology have on the recipients personally, socially and professionally?
As our solution can be used for several purposes,two of them are health and education. And we know that it is the base for everything. We can teach music using Key-x. Kids can learn the alphabet, we can find Minimal brain dysfunction or specific learning disability with the gamification process we developed. We can make the children more interested in learning using TiX lights and symbols. In Brazil, we have more than 1 Million children with disabilities inside schools. They do not have anything similar to our solution that can unleash their power almost immediately. We can prove to the world that these kids have many other abilities than we imagine. We have many real cases already. We can also empower disabled people and their families, even health and education professionals and institutions like rehabilitation clinics and schools for them to know how to unlock their knowledge! By doing that, we change forever their lives, their community and they can join the labor market and become an efficient professional.
5. How is this social startup being funded? Is the idea so crucial to enable a sustainable fundraising effort over the long term?
Our product has different kinds of customers and we currently sell to them.
Some of them are disabled people or their families, some are health and education professionals, and some are institutions like rehabilitation clinics and schools.
Disabled people and families: these customers purchase the product to empower a person, making way for him or her to use computers and mobile devices by him or herself. We give them confidence, autonomy, privacy and, in many cases, a compelling new way of communicating with the family and other people.
Rehabilitation Clinics: our product fits these customers because it is a powerful tool for several kinds of rehabilitation therapies attended by people with disabilities such as the consequences of cerebral palsy, spinal cord injury, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), strokes, Parkinson’s disease, congenital malformation, amputations, and many others. Professionals who take significant advantage of TiX with patients include occupational therapists, phono audiologists and physiotherapists.
Schools: Key-x provides endless possibilities for improving the learning process of students with disabilities. For those with only physical and or motor coordination related limitations, TiX offers several ways of using a computer or mobile device for writing, playing games, attending computer-assisted lessons and much more.
Our market is huge! We are talking about some Billion dollars. If each Special school only in Brazil, buy one set, which would be just the beginning to attend those kids, the numbers would reach around 150M U$. If each child inside those 42.000 special Public schools in Brasil buys only one keyboard, this number reaches 1 Billion U$. We are not talking about private Schools, and we are not talking about the subscriptions plans, we are not talking about rehabilitation clinics, associations, foundations, professionals and universities, colleges, regular schools, etc. They are obligated by law to have at least one assistive technology to attend People of Determination. And they do not have anything.
The global elderly and disabled assistive devices market was valued at $19 billion in 2015 and is expected to surpass $28 billion by 2024, according to Coherent Market Insights. Globally, more than 1 billion people need 1 or more assistive products. With an aging global population and a rise in noncommunicable diseases, more than 2 billion people will need at least one assistive product by 2050, with many older people needing 2 or more.
6. What other innovations can we expected related to the technology for people of Determination?
Today we can expect many fantastic ideas that will arrive in the next years related to AI. Some big industries are trying to “read” our mind. If they have success in this area, it will help millions of people that were born with any non-verbal disability. There are also many fantastic projects related to robotics. People who were born without the arm for example, will be able to move objects thinking about them, with these bionic arms scientists and entrepreneurs are creating.
7. How does the community look at people with determination and how does the media tackle or report on this?
Our Society has changed quite positively. Today the Society understands that these people need to be included, respected, and especially encouraged. Bringing them access to technology is part of a process that has no turning back, because people who are determined also want to be part of all the changes the world has to make. The media, in turn, could report more on the achievements these people have been making to encourage families to seek technology as a resource to help both sides.