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For more than 20 years, Phia Damsma has passionately worked to develop the Sonokids’ ‘Ballyland’ suite of apps, which are used by blind or visually impaired children to learn essential skills to use computers and mobile devices.
Thanks to the financial support of more than $3,000 from a Mable Community Grant, Phia will be able to bring her dream of creating a 3D printed learning tool for the ‘CosmoBally on Sonoplanet’ educational sonification app into reality.
“My goal through the Mable Community Grant is to make a 3D printed learning tool available along with the Sonoplanet educational app to develop independence and inclusion for young Australians who are blind or visually impaired.”
Children who are blind or have low vision using the app will be able to explore what the main character ‘CosmoBally’ looks like through touch, which also creates more awareness among parents and teachers about the project and promotes the ability of the children rather than their disability.
“Especially in rural areas, parents and teachers don’t have easy access to 3D print services, so there is a demand for ready-made tactile learning models. Giving out this model provides an equal opportunity for all children to ‘get to know’ the character in this educational program (either through touch or by looking at it). It has been demonstrated that this supports and motivates their learning and provides joy,” Phia says.
The Mable Community Grant will be used to print and distribute 40 copies of the tactile 3D CosmoBally learning tool to children working with the app. “Students who are blind or vision impaired encounter barriers to independent access to computers and electronic devices and, as a result, may not be able to have a future career in these fields,” Phia says.
Established in 1999, Sonokids is passionate about developing fun and educational accessible games, digital tools and software for learners who are blind or have low vision. Phia (Creative Director) alongwith John Norgaard (Chief Programmer) believes that digital technology provides an opportunity for everyone to participate equally and inclusively, regardless of disability, and that digital literacy is essential for education, social life, and (future) employment.
“Everybody should get the opportunity to develop essential digital skills through accessible learning,” Phia says.
Mable CEO Peter Scutt was thrilled by the announcement that the Mable Community Grants Committee had funded a project that directly increased the participation of children who are visually impaired or blind in learning about digital technologies and devices.
“As a technology platform, we need to be mindful of how people access our website and take all the steps we can to reduce the barriers for people who are visually impaired.”
“Our mission through the Mable Community Grants is to partner with and support like-minded changemakers who set out to impact their community positively through greater inclusion.”
“We advocate for a society that sees people of all ages, demographics, and abilities have the opportunity to live a life of their choosing and discover meaning, purpose and belonging,” Peter says. The ‘CosmoBally on Sonoplanet’ educational sonification app is available to download from the AppStore (for iPad and iPhone) and Google Play for Android devices. To find out more, visit https://www.sonoplanet.com.