Fujitsu Limited today announced that it has started to offer in Japan a free mobile phone application that provides educational and social support for children with special needs, including those with learning disabilities and autism, and their parents.
The new software was originally developed by Fujitsu, and its functionality and operability were improved through field tests undertaken in collaboration with Kagawa University from May to September 2010.
Children with special needs often require help in areas such as understanding time, communicating, and handwriting. To meet these needs, Fujitsu developed three software modules: "Timer" to help understand time; "Picture Card" to help with communication as well as scheduling; and "Handwriting" to show the correct order in which to write characters in Japanese.
These software modules also use special mobile phone functions that have been designed with attention to the nature of learning disabilities, such as a color filter and the mobile phone’s vibration function, to facilitate understanding on the part of the children.
Background and Aims:
The number of children in Japan requiring special assistance because of developmental or learning disabilities includes approximately 600,000 children in regular schools and nearly 100,000 more in special needs schools and classes. In 2005, the Act to Support Persons with Developmental Disabilities was enacted in Japan, and, year after year, there is a growing need to support children requiring special assistance because of disabilities.
Fujitsu has long been working on universal design initiatives that seek to enable broad accessibility to the world of information and communications technologies (ICT), and the company developed the new software with the goal of raising the quality of life for children requiring special assistance through the use of mobile phones—an ICT platform that has become an integral part of our modern lives.
Overview of Field Tests:
In collaboration with Kagawa University’s Faculty of Education, which is actively involved in the use of ICT in education, Fujitsu undertook field tests of the software from May to September 2010 to verify its effectiveness by lending mobile phones loaded with the three software modules to parents of the children attending a special needs school affiliated with the university.
In the field tests, there were cases in which, using the character stroke order software, children were able to write their names for the first time, as well as cases in which, using the picture card software, children were able to change their own clothes or shop on their own, among other results.
Free from October 29, 2010 on Fujitsu phones sold in Japan by NTT DOCOMO.
The software can be downloaded using the following method:
To download from iMenu, press the iMode button and go to the iMenu, select the menu list and then the mobile phone manufacturer, and then go to the @F mobile phone support group.