María Pilar Ferro

Ashoka Fellow
Capital Federal, Argentina
Fellow Since 2008

Citation

This profile was prepared when María Pilar Ferro was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2008.
The New Idea
In 1996 Pilar founded CARE, a civic organization (CO), after noticing there were few opportunities for many Argentines to access technology. CARE considers what kinds of help a handicapped individual requires and to meet their needs it either provides existing technologies, adapts them, or creates new tools. CARE’s multidisciplinary team of engineers, educators, and physical therapists not only provides technology but also works with the recipient on how to use it. Additionally, the team trains users’ families and friends, which is strategic for CARE in three ways: it spreads knowledge about the technologies, makes the handicapped more integrated into the community, and acts as a self-help system so that users require less customer service.

In addition to private donations, CARE is able to provide its services at reasonable prices due to partnerships Pilar has cultivated with the government and research universities. For example, Pilar has developed computer-training courses for different marginalized groups and the municipal government of Buenos Aires provides scholarships for these trainings at the Foundation for Equality. CARE uses the foundation’s space and computers to train users on their specific technological aids. Pilar has developed hardware and software such as special keyboards and computer programs. The CARE website offers free software such as a program for operating the mouse with facial gestures or a program for the blind that provides audio for Internet Explorer.

Pilar has become known as an expert in Argentina on the emergence of new technologies for the handicapped. She is currently overseeing an awareness campaign and is working with legislators to make technological aids available for the disabled. Through lectures, workshops and seminars Pilar has generated awareness about the advantages of technological aids and trained professionals on how to use them. Pilar works with universities on research and development, and has also created a new post-graduate degree in technologies for the handicapped. She is collaborating with other COs to make technology more available to the disabled and she is also involved with international organizations for the handicapped.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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