A Whole World of Life-Changing Possibilities Open for Amal in Kfar Kassem


Assistive technology opens up a whole world of life-changing possibilities for people with disabilities. It is a critical tool for developing independence, integrating into the fabric of life, and increasing quality of life. These technological aids that improve human functionality include dedicated software applications, customized computers, interactive programs, adaptive switches and buttons, virtual keyboards, sound outputs, robots for independent feeding, and many more. 

The New Kfar Kassem Center and Assistive Technology

Upon the opening of the Adult Therapeutic Nursing Day Care Center in the Arab-Israel city of Kfar Kassem, we determined that the clients will have at the ready, all the assistive technology necessary to serve them. This was particularly important for this center, since for over 12 years the families there had been promised help but the municipality had not been able to provide a suitable physical facility. Most of these adults with moderate to severe disabilities had been living at home until the center opened, with very little support for their physical and intellectual advancement.

The assistive technology program in Kfar Kassem includes an accessible technology station in every classroom with smart devices including a touchscreen desktop computer and iPads with dedicated assistive tech applications. The program was carefully planned to enable all the center’s clients to be exposed to technology suited to their ability and needs.

The Amazing Story of “Amal”

The story of “Amal” (not his real name), age 43, begins with a voice output device. Amal has a severe form of the motor disability, Cerebral Palsy (CP). He is in a wheelchair, unable to control his speech, arms and legs. He can, however, control his head and eyes. We provided Amal with a switch connected to an iPad to operate with his head. 

The first time we entered the classroom and presented Amal with the technology, we played a song on the iPad. The iPad’s voice output verbalized that he could press a switch to listen to the song again. Amal then operated the switch with his head and the song played again. A captivating smile appeared on his face as a reaction. 

The second time we entered his classroom, Amal saw us and began shouting and smiling, excited to be able to work with the technology again. Now, each time we present it to him, he makes an effort to precisely operate the switch with his head, which enables him to play a game (he especially likes those involving singing and dancing), choose a song from list of songs, or communicate by choosing from pictured options, that help him communicate his feelings, needs, or desires.

For Amal, the assistive technology has provided a meteoric improvement in his standard of living. For his 42 years before it, his ability to communicate his desires to others was much more limited.

Exposing Our Clients’ Personalities through Technology

The rest of the center’s clients also enjoy the distinct advantages of assistive technology. Each client has a personal habilitation plan for their advancement, which integrates technology to develop and advance their skills. The staff was trained on the program’s precise implementation and the clients were training on and had to practice operating the technology. Amal, for example, had to repeat operating the switches many times with his head in order to learn to use them properly. 

The assistive technology program has uncovered for these clients many cognitive and emotional abilities, even personality traits, which were previously unknown to their families and caregivers. For example, we now know that Amal likes music and dance, and we even know which songs he prefers.

The program was made possible by the generous support of Philip Morris. We deeply thank Philip Morris for providing the technology and training to enable our clients in Kfar Kassem, for the first time in their lives, with the ability to choose, communicate and integrate, as well as enjoy content, activities and daily communication. 

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