A Voice for Collins

Collins Agaba (age 13) is one of the app2vox trial candidates in Uganda. Collins is non-verbal. He has been for a long time. His family have struggled with
his communication problems, due not only to the stigma surrounding Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), but also a lack of resources and diagnostic facilities. Collins had a late diagnosis, after visiting numerous institutions which often couldn’t identify his condition.

Each day Collins attends school at the “Teens and Tots” Neuro-development Centre, in Kampala. This school specialises in teaching children with disabilities like autism, cerebral palsy and down syndrome.

Teens and Tots Therapist, Emmanuel Mwaba uses the app2vox application as a teaching tool to help Collins practice numbers, name pictures, tell the time and even identify his feelings.

Emmanuel states, ‘Ever since Collins received the app2vox application he has engaged with it in a way that we don’t see with other teaching tools, such as toys or puzzles.’

The app2vox application has a camera function which Emmanuel uses to help Collins take photos of different items as well as assist in naming them. This has made learning and communication much easier for Collins. Indeed, some learning cards which are internationally used, may have photos of items which are not known in Uganda. For example, a photo of an ice cream van in the UK is completely different from the one in Uganda.

In December 2015 Collins was not able to recognize the yes and no icons and had a very low level of concentration when using the app2vox application. TODAY Collins can respond to yes and no questions by using the application on an ongoing basis, during his everyday activities. This is the closest thing to a miracle for his parents, teachers and caretakers.

Collins’ mother expresses her excitement, ‘We are now able to understand what Collins wants and does not want. For us, this means the world; he has grown so attached to the tablet, it is like an extension of him.’

Collins is testimony to how assistive technology is changing the lives of people with ASD.