BOGOTA – People with a certain degree of auditory dysfunction can now communicate without an interpreter thanks to software developed in Colombia that combines 44,000 words in Spanish with pictures, sound and videos.
“Hablando con Julis” (Talking to Julis) is the name of this technological development and of the foundation originated by the Galindo Bermudez family in Bogota. Faced with the need to communicate with their daughter Juliana, who hears but cannot speak, they set out in 2006 to invent a system that would give her more independence.
“It’s a communicational and learning solution for any disabled person,” Daniela Galindo, leader of the project and president of the non-profit foundation, told Colombia.inn, a news agency operated by Efe.
The program, which costs 275,000 pesos (about $142), enables people who suffer from deafness, Down syndrome, aphasia, autism, cerebral paralysis, or due to an accident or disease lost their ability to communicate with words and phrases, to make themselves easily understood.
The first version of the software “was made exclusively for Juliana and had only 3,000 words,” Galindo said, adding that in view of the many other people it could benefit, decided with the help of a private company to take the program to the next level.
Today the software has 125,000 bits of multimedia information including videos of words in sign language, plus sounds and images associated with hundreds of concepts such as colors, flavors, numbers, geography, body parts, moods and feelings.
Some 4,000 people are now using this program in Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, Peru, Venezuela and Colombia, where besides the software license, the disabled are offered three months of training for themselves and their families.
According to the World Health Organization, some 360 million people around the world have incapacitating hearing loss, of whom 87 percent never learn to read or write.