The Fundação Portugal Telecom and Qualcomm Incorporated (Nasdaq: QCOM), through its Wireless Reach™ initiative, today announced the funding of three pilot projects to provide wireless technology to improve the social inclusion of severely disabled people. This collaboration will provide Smartphones, wirelessly enabled laptops, software and hardware to individuals participating in three ongoing Fundação Portugal Telecom programs.
With Project Estrela (Star), existing digital support centers will be equipped with 3G Smartphones to teach people with cerebral palsy how to use the devices so that they can be in communication with their families and caregivers on a regular basis. The phones will be equipped with speech recognition software, continuous digit dialling, animated speech and text-to-speech applications. Once patients learn how to use the phones, Portugal Telecom will make government subsidized devices available for purchase together with Fundação PT subsidized program.
Bola de Neve (Snow Ball) targets the rehabilitation phase for patients suffering from impaired motor functions due to burn or accident injuries. Centers (many located in hospitals) will be furnished with embedded laptops to aid severely injured patients in communicating with nurses and doctors. The laptops will use special augmentative communication applications for people with severe motor or speaking disabilities and allow access to the Internet as well as the ability to send and receive SMS or MMS messages. For many patients, these laptops will be their only means of communication. After leaving hospitals, patients will get services from the Social Welfare national system or private institutions, and will get support from Fundação PT subsidized programs.
Project Girassol (Sunflower) aims to give Smartphones or other wireless devices at no cost to low-income individuals who are disabled and cannot afford to buy a device even at a subsidized price. The project will bring mobile technologies to those with severe disabilities who live in non-profit/public institutions. Providing access to mobile technologies will give participants the opportunity to take field trips and allow them to spend longer periods of time away from the institutions. Remote learning and e-learning systems and solutions will also be used by students with severe disabilities. Fundação PT is working on providing subsidized prices for SMS and video calls for people with disabilities, within the scope of its mission.
“Social inclusion is greatly increased by the use of wireless technologies”, said Zeinal Bava, CEO of Portugal Telecom. “These projects will target individuals with severe disabilities in all age groups and provide the technology to create new opportunities for them to better participate in society.”
Considering the relevance of these 3G projects to improve communication and independence of people with severe diseases, the Minister of Health appointed Dr. Maria João Quintela, the head of division of Health on the Life Cycle and Special Environments, to be the key contact in the Health Ministry for the development of these projects.
Funded by Qualcomm's Wireless Reach initiative and managed by the Fundação Portugal Telecom, these projects will begin in 2008 (Project Estrela and Girassol) and the first half of 2009 (Project Bola de Neve).
“Qualcomm is pleased to contribute 3G technology and to help enable people to stay connected with their families and the world through its first Wireless Reach initiative in Portugal,” said Andrew Gilbert, executive vice president and president of Qualcomm Internet Solutions, MediaFLO Technologies and Qualcomm Europe. “We are excited by the possibilities wireless technology can provide to disabled people and their communities.”
Qualcomm believes access to advanced wireless voice and data services improves people's lives. The Company's Wireless Reach initiative supports programs and solutions that bring the benefits of connectivity to underserved communities globally. Wireless Reach projects create new ways for people to communicate, learn, access health care and reach global markets. For more information, please visit www.qualcomm.com/wirelessreach.
Qualcomm Incorporated (Nasdaq: QCOM) is a leader in developing and delivering innovative digital wireless communications products and services based on CDMA and other advanced technologies. Headquartered in San Diego, Calif., Qualcomm is included in the S&P 100 Index, the S&P 500 Index and is a 2008 FORTUNE 500® company. For more information, please visit www.qualcomm.com.
Fundação Portugal Telecom - a private not-for-profit institution of public utility - was created to support the social responsibility commitment of the Portugal Telecom Group, and its main mission is to promote and support programs that contribute to the development of the Information Society and fighting against info-exclusion, and to the social use of communication and information technologies, namely in the fields of education and technological training, as well as those promoting innovation and development in the areas of health, science and culture. For more information, please visit http://fundacao.telecom.pt