Technology is a double-edged sword. One can make a nuclear bomb capable of wiping out millions at the push of a button, or the same nuclear energy can be put to use to power whole cities.
One area where the use of technology has been significantly positive is in the field of medical sciences, helping in the treatment of previously incurable diseases like cancer as well as helping the visually impaired to navigate around. Now, a couple of software engineers from Karachi’s first women’s university, Jinnah, have developed a speech therapy platform that can help people with speech problems.
Meet Rabab Fatima and Shanza Khan Shahani, the two girls that want to make life easy for people who are suffering from speech problems or are slow learners. Determined to “break the silence”, they have come up with “Bolo Tech”.
What is Bolo Tech?
Bolo Tech is an Urdu-based digital speech therapy platform. It integrates audio and visuals to teach the correct pronunciations of Urdu alphabets and words. There are detailed lessons, inspired from the Urdu Qaida, as well as interactive games that help in improving a person’s speech.
The software, although aimed for kids, is also a perfect solution for hearing-impaired adults. It works perfectly as an alternative to speech therapy— a costly and time-consuming option. Unlike speech therapists, the software can be used to practice for hours on a daily basis without spending an exorbitant amount of money.
The girls are currently being incubated at The Nest I/O, a technology incubator in Karachi launched by Pakistan Software Houses Association for IT and ITES ([email protected]). Some of the incubator’s most popular alumnus include WonderTree, Trequant, Sukoon, and more.
During this four-month incubation, these young entrepreneurs will receive advice and support from industry veterans and mentors, have access to technology as well as investors.
“Every minute at The Nest counts for us as we will never get the same opportunity to be able to work on the product without any interruption the way we have gotten at this incubation center,” says co-founder Shanza, while talking to AuratRaaj, a blog dedicated to women empowerment in Pakistan.
“At home, there are always electricity shortages, internet problems and family members disrupting our workflow.”
Rabab and Shanza have also been testing out their software at VISL WES, a school for children and adults who have special needs or are slow learners. Most of the special needs children suffer from visual and hearing impairments.
The school has had been on the lookout for a speech therapist after their last one left for a job at a hospital in Karachi but haven’t had much luck. With this software, however, they have a temporary solution in place. Moreover, the response they have received from children is amazing and has reinforced the girls’ belief in the work they are doing.
“We weren’t aware of how difficult simple tasks for these kids were before we started designing this software. Now we are even more committed to building something that could give these kids a real voice in society,” said Rabab.
They plan to keep improving Bolo Tech and are currently focusing on Urdu language only. The first version of the software with the complete curriculum is scheduled for release in a few weeks. Meanwhile, the final version with games and a few more features will be launched later.
Once they perfect it, they plan to move on to developing lessons and designing a curriculum in regional languages of Pakistan as well.
When I asked them for a message they would love to share with our readers over here at ProPakistani, they said,
“Who says women can’t change the world?”