'Able-ing' the differently - abled | Daily News

'Able-ing' the differently - abled

Project Coordinator Arun Jentrick, Disability Resource Centre Head Manique Guneratne, student Harshan Nilukul and UNFPA's Prem Perera launching the mobile app

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) launched its latest mobile application, ABLE, at the Taj Samudra on December 3. The app is an attempt to make knowledge on reproductive health more accessible to those who are differently-abled, particularly the youth.

The UNFPA prides itself in being an agency that "expands the possibilities for women and young people to lead healthy, sexual and reproductive lives."

The agency currently functions in over 140 countries, focusing on making sure that every pregnancy is wanted and every childbirth is safe. The makers of the mobile app 'ABLE,' address the fact that the differently - abled individuals are marginalized from society and often they do not receive proper information about their sexual and reproductive well-being, putting them at risk of unwanted pregnancies and STDs.

Billy & Friends performing

'ABLE' therefore, tries to create a space where differently - abled individuals, especially young people, can obtain the information they need to lead healthier and fuller lives. The app is a important gesture considering that 1,617,924 people in Sri Lanka are differently - abled, most of them being visually-impaired.

The app functions in English, Sinhala and Tamil. It also has the option of activating a voice-guide in any preferred language for the visually-impaired.

"There is a quality voice-over, fluid design and clean interface that makes it easy to use," said the app's designer Sanjaya Samarasinghe of eBeyonds at the mobile launch. The app is made of two sections; the first is titled 'LEARN', wherein users can learn about a range of topics, from sexuality and family planning to gender based violence and sexually transmitted diseases.

The second is 'FIND SUPPORT,' which consists of a comprehensive catalogue of clinics in every city and district of Sri Lanka.

The app is still in its launching phase. "It is a little rough around the edges, but we're hoping it pans out well by the end of December, considering the impact it would make on thousands of people's lives," Samarasinghe said.

In attendance at the launch of the mobile app were members of the Health Ministry, organisations that serve differently - abled individuals, youth groups and schoolchildren. It included a few speeches from attendees interspersed with a creative video presentation of the UNFPA's work to empower women with unwanted pregnancies, and lively performances from comedians fondly known as 'Podi Malli and Chooti Malli', and musicians 'Billy & Friends'.

Dr Nadeeka Chandraratne of the Family Health Bureau spoke of how pioneering psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud said that all human behaviour starts with sexuality - and how this tells us how important it is to receive accurate information about one's sexuality and reproductive health.

She explained how most youths obtain information from peers and from pornography - but given that these sources can be quite dubious, there is now a source of information - ABLE - that is actually accurate.

"Inclusion is what this application is working towards," said Disability Resource Centre Head Manique Gunaratne.

"Differently - abled people are a part of society. We can work towards a future where they are independent and living in a better environment with dignity and justice."

To download the app and receive updates, search for 'ABLE UNFPA' at your mobile store, available on Android and iOS phones. 

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