Imagine leaving school at 15 and spending the rest of your life house-bound and unable to communicate with anyone. This is the future facing many people with complex disabilities in Russia today. Russian people with disabilities are missing out on lo-tech and hi-tech solutions that could help them overcome physical and/or intellectual challenges. We work with two groups of children and teenagers to improve their communication and then spread the knowledge throughout Russia via webinars.
We work with children and teenagers with complex disabilities, but often it is the world they live in that is the biggest disabling factor. Many children with disabilities are missing out on education and meet countless physical obstacles that make getting out and about impossible. The technological revolution and innovations in teaching children with disabilities are providing solutions, but these are by-passing Russian children leaving them still excluded from society.
2 groups in St Petersburg and Moscow help 30 children and their parents. Each child's ability to communicate is assessed and they are given the technology that is right for them. That might be an eye-tracking device to make computers accessible to someone with physical challenges, or a simple book of pictures and signs for someone with learning difficulties. Sessions with a communications specialist and physiotherapist provide intensive support to the whole family as they develop their skills.
What could change the life of an individual more than the ability to communicate? Support in this area can give our young people greater independence, the chance to make friends, to access education and the wider world. Because our approach is totally new in Russia, we are gathering evidence of what works and what doesn't and sharing our findings with over 200 specialists. This is a chance to boost the development of children with disabilities across Russia and change their lives for ever.