Antonio Viard, trained in economics and an experienced manageement consultant, is turning computers into important new supports for the disabled.
The New Idea
The theory of knowledge and the array of new tools humanity has developed to extend the mind promise both important new ways of diagnosing and treating the causes of disability and also major new tools that will help the disabled function more effectively. Antonio is bringing these new tools to Brazil.
He's building an artificial intelligence expert program that will let health workers and affected families spot the symptoms of childhood cerebral palsy. The screen displays, for example, characteristic motions of an affected child's limbs and contrasts them with the movements of a healthy child. It also walks its users through the steps of needed therapy. Incorporating the knowledge of a 70 year old Brazilian cerebral palsy pioneer, Antonio hopes to make the system freely available in Brazil and other Portuguese-speaking areas in 18 months.
Antonio has also organized a program that is helping five major traditional disability assistance organizations in different regions of Brazil introduce computers as new aids to their clients. They're learning, for example, how to develop custom-fitted keyboards that give the severely crippled the ability to communicate and access knowledge and the world through a computer.
He's also establishing programs that will train the disabled to compete for top jobs in the growing information economy.
The roblem- There are millions of disabled Brazili are now walled off from the powerful help computer technol offer. Brazil's foreign exchange problems, its protective information laws, and its Portuguese language barrier have made the introduction difficult. .