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1/ While developing the idea, we conducted several survey on the children with cerebral palsy at the special school run by Centre for Rehabilitation of the Paralyzed (CRP). We examined their current communication methods and mobility assistance, such as their customized wheelchair for children and pictorial wooden boards.

We have spent time with the children observing them and trying to understanding their challenges.

We also ran several expert interviews including the principal of the school, teachers, care takers and occupational therapists at CRP. The limitations of current communication methods came out pretty clearly and their struggles with moving themselves even over a small distance.

Beyond class rooms, we have included one of our own client in the research, whom we have been providing support for last two years.

2/ The eye gaze and sensor technology is being used in commercial and open-source applications for a long time. One of the best known assistive device maker Tobii Dynavox [https://www.tobiidynavox.com/products/Devices/ ] uses eye gaze technology in their many commercial speech generation products. Many other alternative augmentative communication (AAC) devices are built based on this technology. It is also being used in market research. The technology is proven and stable.

Our current goal is to adapt EyeWriter [http://www.eyewriter.org/], an eye gaze technology developed and open-sourced by Backyard Brains. It’s being used in generating artwork, a much more precise form of eye tracking than our basic communication needs.

By building on open-source we can avoid license fees, making the devices affordable for less fortunate people, and we can open source our solution too for people in other parts of the world to adopt.

3/ Our challenge will be keeping the cost at minimum. We have to import the motor and motor controller from China, and a portion of our cost will go into sourcing these parts. How affordably we can source them will determine our final cost.

Another challenge will be modifying these devices for different groups of people. For example, children will need different kinds of design than adults. And, children who also have intellectual disability will need pictorial methods. People with cerebral palsy have many different individual challenges that can make our research and development expensive.

As our primary goal is to make these devices affordable, we aim to charge the family of the patients just enough for the distribution, development and operational cost. However, we haven’t figured that out completely yet. We might even try a sponsorship model. For example, our partner CRP can buy these devices, as they already have a program to provide wheelchair to the students at their school. This is something we need to test and the the model we will follow is quite dependent on our final cost of the product.

4/ Centre for the Rehabilitation of the Paralysed is the largest specialized facility for treatment of disabled people in Bangladesh. We are partnering with them to gain access to patients with cerebral palsy and their expert occupational therapists, house mothers and nurses. They also run a special school where many children with CP are admitted. So CRP has a vested interest in developing communication devices and mobility aids for these children and its patients. In fact, CRP has been building accessible wheelchair for a long time but they lack the resources and expertise to motorize the wheelchair and develop advanced communication devices.

The Tech Academy has been in operation since 2013, building automation solutions for industries, and teaching robotics to children. We partnered with them as they are one of the few organizations in Bangladesh who have worked with muscle tracking devices, experimented with EMG, EOG and EGG, and has already built prototypes for these. Besides, The Tech Academy has access to engineers and electronics enthusiasts that they can bring into the project.

We have been working with the occupational therapists of CRP for over a year and recently started helping them with a text-to-speech software and a malfunctioning battery powered wheelchair, with help from The Tech Academy. And, we have been working with The Tech Academy for over six months.