I would like to begin 2020 with a note of gratitude.
Every member of the Avaz team is humbled to have been given an opportunity to play a small yet empowering role in each of our user’s lives. We are eternally grateful to the community of users, parents, educators, SLPs and other caregivers spread across geographies, that believes in us and keeps inspiring us.
As Avaz Inc. continues its journey into the new decade, the entire team and I promise that YOU and your priorities will always be at the center of all our work. Be it new features, updates or new product lines, you will forever be our constant.
What’s in store for 2020?
As we begin the year with renewed energy and an even stronger sense of focus, here is what we as a team are envisioning for 2020.
Breaking Down Accessibility Barriers
Avaz is determined to ensure that language is no longer an obstacle that restricts an individual from expressing themselves. We will continue to work towards providing users access to AAC in multiple languages. We already support 15 on Avaz AAC and will add new ones soon. Did you know that we added 2 very contrasting languages in 2019 – Faroese and Bangla?
This is what we love to do and are good at 🙂 We partner with folks from across the globe and work together to create Avaz AAC – which will provide a voice for thousands of people in the language that their loved ones speak. Drop me a note to collaborate with us to support a new language – email@example.com
In late 2018, we released the Avaz AAC for Android phones and people loved it. Parents could use it as a companion app while their child used the tablet. Or they could trial Avaz on an Android phone before investing in an expensive tablet. One of our most frequent customer requests has been for an iPhone version of Avaz. I am very excited to announce that we will be releasing Avaz for iPhones in early 2020.
Keep getting better everyday
In 2020, and throughout this decade, we will continue to add exciting features to our set of products. In 2019, we released our first product in the space of assistive reading – MDA Avaz Reader. We have received great feedback from our users and will continue to add some state of the art speech and analytics related features to the product in 2020.
We have a great set of small yet handy features coming out soon for Avaz AAC – thanks entirely to customers and experts who have shared feedback with us over the years. Keep watching this space for more on that! Leave us a comment if you would like to tell us what we can improve in our products.
Empowering Parents as Communication Partners
Communication partner training has been a central focus at Avaz for the last few years and will continue to be so. We are getting closer to an inflection point – a day when modeling AAC will not be “jargon” any more.
We did weekly webinars talking about communication and Avaz this year and it was heartwarming to see the response. It helped us spread the word about AAC in the remotest of places! It only strengthened our resolve to scale this further in 2020.
Experts play a critical role in spreading the word about AAC in geographies where the awareness is still growing. Hence, collaborating with experts like Lauren Enders, 2020 will see us sharing knowledge in different ways with parents, educators and speech therapists.
Our vision is to create a world where every learner is empowered to fulfill their entire potential. Having started our journey in the assistive technology space with the Avaz AAC app, we have evolved our product portfolio with newer products over the years. Our portfolio now includes Avaz FreeSpeech for language development, Communication Adventures for communication partner training and Avaz Reader for helping children with reading disabilities.
This journey has just started. This year and the coming decade will see many further advances in technology and product development from the Avaz Inc. In 2020, we are actively seeking collaborators to solve some of the hairiest problems in the special education space. Drop me a note here – firstname.lastname@example.org
<<My Wishlist to Make 2020 More Inclusive>>
1.Busting myths like “Will AAC impact Speech development?” once and for all! The research says – Definitely No. AAC myths like these are so 2019!
2.An honest conversation about screen time – Yes, WHO has recommended limited screen time for young children. However, if a child can’t communicate their thoughts, their needs – isn’t it unfair to deny them a voice on the assumption that they might get “addicted” to it? Besides, research suggests that not all screen time is bad. It’s important that we distinguish between active screen time which may have positive effects, when compared to passive screen time where children are sedentary.
AAC falls under active screen time because there is two-way communication, interaction with a communication partner, and language use. It leads to children being more confident – because they can communicate what they want! They are able to access knowledge the way that they understand best. This is why AAC experts believe that screen time limits should not apply to AAC systems. However, the concern of “addiction” is real. And there are ways in which this addiction can be mitigated. – Let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater.
3.Can we see more people using AAC in public places? Events like these should be mundane and should not deem a second glance! –
4.India embracing assistive technology to empower children with learning disabilities!
The RPwD Act 2016 has been a step forward for India. It will be fantastic to see new policies being crafted and funding being allocated for assistive technologies. The Inclusive Education policies under the Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan are also a great addition. There are encouraging signs with various state governments in India showing interest in including technology interventions to make schools inclusive. We are looking to partner with the government to create policies that will address challenges in the assistive technology space.
Here’s wishing you and your family a wonder-filled, adventurous and healthy 2020!!
Narayanan “Nadu” Ramakrishnan is CEO, Avaz Inc.
He’s deeply passionate about making technology work for inclusion and access.
A compulsive collector of stationery, lover of long road trips, biryani and podcasts, when not busy coding. Follow him on LinkedIn