Date: 08 April 2009

From helping the visually-impaired to access the benefits of ICT, the Kerala government now wants to widen the scope of its IT mission to address the needs of the mentally and developmentally challenged.

The Kerala State IT Mission is planning to constitute a technical committee to look into how differently abled people can also enjoy the benefits of IT. This will evolve programmes under the Insight project to impart free IT training to individuals who are suffering from mental and developmental problems.

Insight is a project that addresses the needs of over three lakh visually-challenged people in Kerala. The committee would include IT experts working in the field of skill development among such people. It will be a state-level committee, but will also coordinate with individuals and NGOs from across the country.

According to the reports, Insight project officials are also in touch with Dr Arun Mehta, the renowned software developer who led the team that developed the communication software for physicist Dr Stephen Hawking, the most well-known physicist since Albert Einstien, who suffers from degenerative motor neuron disease. Dr Hawking and many like him can only operate a single button. Their ability to communicate with the world hinges on software that allows them to efficiently enter text into a computer and have it spoken for them, only through the operation of this single button. For a software designer, this represents an extreme in interface design.

Launched in 2007 with ICT training for the visually challenged, the Insight project is believed to have provided basic computers and Internet applications to more than 100 visually-challenged individuals till now.