Making the Tech Revolution Accessible

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Image source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/files/images2/21Eyes_0.jpg

26-year-old Indonesian entrepreneur, Rizky Ario, is working to make ICTs accessible to all people, including those with disabilities. His social enterprise is called dreamBender, a company through which he developed Isara, “an open sign language dictionary and learning application.”

Its main goal is to spread awareness of sign language in the country, particularly as a first language. He mentions that, rather than having an official sign language of its own, Indonesia has a sign system, which literally translates words from Indonesian, and is used both for educational purposes and on national television.

“Schools for the disabled [SLB] use the sign system only, and that actually hampers the learning process as they can’t understand the lesson because the language is different,” he says, given that most of the people who are deaf or hard of hearing in the country use Indonesian Sign Language (BISINDO) instead. This has a completely different grammatical structure than the sign system and is a faster and simpler mode of communication.

This project is the result of in-depth consultations with local deaf communities such as the Indonesia Deaf People’s Welfare Movement.

Isara recently won first place at the Asia Pacific ICT Awards. With this win, Ario and the dreamBender team further developed and improved the system. It now features more sophisticated sign-language learning and recognition tools, a story-telling program for children, and an open-source dictionary.

Though some schools initially rejected the program, now 20 schools throughout the country use the software and it is supported by the government of Indonesia.

The project has since been recognized by both the Arthur Guinness Project and Ashoka Changemakers.

Ario hopes to expand Isara to more cities and is also developing Sparkins, which is a tablet application for the blind.

He is clearly well on his way to achieving his goal of “enabling people through technology.”

Source: Novia D. Rulistia, The Jakarta Post