The Code for Romania community is preparing a new initiative: they are going to create Open Source educational software for deafblind and multi-sensory disabled students using game elements. The first developments of the e-Sense project will start this July and it is planned that by the end of summer the first tests with alpha versions can begin.
Over the last few weeks, the developers who are part of Code for Romania have been meeting by videoconference with teachers from specialized schools in teaching these groups. They have been showing them how they work with these students so that developers can tailor the software to the needs and requirements of students with disabilities.
They will also work with Sense International, a UK-based non-profit organization that helps people with deafblindness. "Children with deafblindness and multisensory impairments face great difficulties in communication, access to information, orientation and mobility," they comment from this organization. “Digital technology is more and more widespread in the education system and in our everyday life, but not when it comes to children with deafblindness. In order for them to be able to access high-quality education and not be left behind, they need educational software adapted to the specific needs that come with having both visual and hearing impairments,” they say.
Throughout Romania there are about 3,000 students with deafblindness and multisensory impairments. At the moment, the e-Sense project will be aimed at students between 4 and 10 years. Olivia Vereha, one of the founders of Code for Romania explains that at these ages “intense intervention is often required. It is also where teachers expect that the gamification of education can give good results.”
The software may initially be used in Romanian and English, and other languages, such as Hungarian, will be incorporated. All its components and modules can be easily modified, so that other developers can adapt the project to their needs. As it is an Open Source project and allows third parties to host their own versions, it will be much easier to improve and enrich it.
Code for Romania is a group of developers, designers, social scientists, and communication specialists who aim to improve the society in which they live. Since early 2016, they are looking for digital solutions to societal issues. **All of their tools are Open Source, and they encourage volunteers to document, exchange, collaborate, and reuse your tools, programs, and processes.