5 years of collaboration between VERBUND and Diakonie in aid of people with speech impediments
In Austria, there are more than 600,000 people living with disabilities, of these, more than 60,000 people have speech impairments. "These people are however not without a voice. They are, nevertheless, silenced because the financing of communication devices are always coming up against bureaucratic hurdles as concerns different public authorities and is very difficult to arrange" criticises the Director at the Diakonie, Michael Chalupka. With the motto "electricity for life", at the beginning of December 2009, VERBUND and Diakonie started an initiative with a long-term goal called the "VERBUND Empowerment Fund of the Diakonie". This initiative has already been able to assist around 9000 (8,950 to be precise) people with disabilities in Austria in the last 5 years to live independent lives by using the most modern technology.
Together, VERBUND and Diakonie have demanded a legal right to technical equipment and financing for assisting technology for the last 5 years. "For five years, the VERBUND Empowerment Fund of the Diakonie has helped people with disabilities to be able to actively communicate and to lead independent lives", says VERBUND CEO Wolfgang Anzengruber.
With the help of a 1.155 million euro investment, from 2009 to 2014, aid equipment and assisting technology for around 1,650 people has been acquired. Additionally, 7,350 people received problem advice.
Eye-gaze Communication Board for Denise
Denise Will is 15 years old and has used an eye-gaze communication board since autumn 2013. Her family received financial support from the Verbund Empowerment Fund in order to acquire it "I am happy that I now have the eye-gaze communication board. It took a long time to get one. Now I use it at school and in my flat-share. Currently I am using it at school to learn (reading and writing). Sometimes I also use it to say if I want something. I would love to use it to be able to tell stories, but that's not currently possible because I don't have the right pictures yet. My carers are still working on this. I look at photos on the computer, listen to music and practice writing from books."