In many parts of the world, students who cannot operate technology or participate in a classroom often drop out by high school.
With Key2Enable software, students can use technology with the motor function available to them, and easily participate in school and life.
In this episode, we’re speaking with William de Oliveira, the Cofounder and President at Key2Enable Assistive Technology. The mission of Key2Enable is to help kids with movement disabilities to stay in school and get great jobs with access to technology that they can use easily.
- 1:30 The mission and founding story
- 4:00 How it works and who can use it
- 9:00 Global Goal 10: Reduce Inequalities
- 16:00 Tech Specs
- 20:00 Going to market and the Indiegogo launch
- 32:00 How to support
We’ll cover the founders’ story, how the technology works, as well as the impact of the technology on emerging markets and underserved populations. Listen in and enjoy!
The company was founded in Brazil and now operates out of Florida. The Key X on their keyboard enables any motor-disabled person to operate a keyboard. William says,
The key X enables any person with a severe motor exhibit to have full access computers, tablets and smartphones. We give it to kids who cannot hold a pen or pencil and cannot vocalize words or speech in a regular classroom. The, they can stay in school and participate, and we can create an opportunity for them to work after they finish school.”
The Founding Story
The founder, [01:58] Glacial Fernandez, was born with cerebral palsy. He was using a pointer to do his job, and created a concept to solve his own problem. He met Adriano and Julio and partnered with the two of them to create a prototype. Then they met William and Alexandros to help with distribution.
After starting in Brazil 5 years ago, the technology gained momentum and is now expanding into the US. “We’ve reached about 1000 students now,” William says.
How it Works
04:08 “With the first concept we created the key X. After that we created a few accessories:
- Blink Accessory With the blink of an eye you can work with the keyboard. The sensor picks up eye movement and translates it to actions on the keyboard.
- Squeezer Tool With the squeezer tool, students can squeeze with any part of their body.
- Keyboard Button The keyboard button simplifies the use of the keyboard.
So in other words, if a person has any movement capability in their body, they can work with the Key X and access computers, tablets and smartphones.
Who Can Use Key2Enable Tools
[05:47] People with cerebral palsy and people with Parkinson’s find the tools useful since they have spasms in their hands and they moved all the time. Optical devices don’t work for them. They cannot access small keys on a keyboard or point straight to them.
“Our target is the people with severe motor disability. They are the ones who are always left out.
Our keyboard has nine very spaced out, large keys and motor-sensitive accessories that allow them to do anything we do on a regular keyboard.”
Staying in School
After these kids finish middle school or high school, they don’t have many opportunities in life because they don’t have the assistant who was taking notes. In places like Brazil, the assistant isn’t a given. Even in the States, the assistant may not be assigned in high school or college.
With the key X, they can now:
- Work from home
- Work from an office
- Use Whatsapp and communication tools
- Schedule appointments
- Stay in school and participate in the conversation
- Play games
That’s 200 million people in the world who can now participate.
10 million in the states.
“It’s No Child Left Behind – that’s kids with cerebral palsy and adults with Parkinson’s. It gives opportunity back to them.”
Global Goal #10: Reduced Inequalities for All
Specifically, Global Goal 10.2: Promote universal social economic and political inclusion.
Key2Enable innovates in multiple other Global Goals as well:
- Goal 4: Quality education. People can now get online and gain access to Google or other learning tools.
- Goal 8: Decent work and economic growth. Now, this whole population has access to work.
- Goal 10: Reduced inequalities. Key2Enable gives more equal opportunities in school and work to those who were previously marginalized.
“We saw so many teachers, so many parents crying because they never knew their kids could do these things. It’s a new world for them.”
[16:00] It’s around 14 inches, or the size of a microwave. It’s two pounds and there’s nine buttons with two different modes. One is for writing and one is for using different colors. That allows people to write all the letters of the alphabet, all numbers, and even other languages and letters with accents. They can do anything a regular computer can do.
“We have one teenager, Daniel, who is learning to code Java by blinking his eyes.”
“One girl in Brazil, one of our first users, is now the top performer in the school in mathematics. She used to use an assistant, and now she’s at the top of her class.”
Going to Market Dec 11th, 2019
The technology went to market 2 years ago and hit US markets on December 11th. You can find them on Indiegogo and buy keyboards for school districts, individual kids and nonprofits.
Key2Enable intends to put their assistive products in the hands of every person in need all over the globe.
“Money is the first challenge, and trying to understand the way the market works,” William says.
Key2Enable will be developing partnerships with foundations and school districts to support distribution and subsidize the cost.
Chandler and William talk about validating a hardware product:
“The first four letters are the hardest! But at the same time you have to integrate everything: the plastic strength, the visual, the colors, the layout… the challenge goes from the hardware to everything in the system!”
Purchasing the Tech
The keyboard is $750 and will be available on Amazon and through Indiegogo. Partners will distribute it in local counties in the US, and online store sales will grow after 2019.