To read on TEDx Maastricht website:
The way that people with intellectual disabilities are part of our society is changing rapidly. Not long ago, these people lived in special homes far away from the public life. But today they become more and more a part of everyday life, and they deserve no less. People with disabilities are, in their own way, very able to contribute to society the way you and I do. They just need a little more support, and that’s just wat Geert Vandewalle is giving them.
Geert Vandewalle just has a passion for these kind of things. He helps people with intellectual disabilities to take care of themselves and be as indipendent as possible. In the past he has done this by finding suitable jobs for people with disabilities, but the modern age has opened up new possibilities to help Geert make his wish come true.
Geert Vandewalle recognizes the fact that the digital age offers many possibilities to support people with disabilities. The most recent developments, the shift from desktop to mobile computing, offeres the biggest opportunity yet…
He looks for things with which people can take management and control of their life back into their own hands, so that they can further raise the individueal quality of life. He looks for applications and tools to improve mobility and participation within society. That way a more diverse society will become easier to achieve. A society wherein many people can take back their place.
BlueCallPhone, where Geert Vandewalle spends most of his time now, uses mobile technology to support people with intellectual disabilities. With a special app that is under development, these people are able to go out by themselves without the help of a professional coach. It creates the freedom people need to feel indipendent and strong.
Development of this application started in 2008 and has been used in pilots until recently. Now, healthcare organizations in Belgium and the Netherlands are picking up on this new technology. More and more people are getting interested and larger scale tests are now conducted.
But that’s not where Geert Vandewalle’s ambition ends. He wants to turn one part of the app into a universal symbol. Like the white cane that people with disabilities use, “Blue Assist” as it is called, should be a symbol for people who need a little help. That way, if these people need help, they can show their icon to other people and in an instant the situation is clear. With expectations set high and great results so far, be prepared for a talk to remember!