disABILITY – An Innovative Teletherapy App to support children with disability Designed and developed by Dilmah’s MJF Foundation and MillenniumIT ESP

The MJF Charitable Foundation and MillenniumIT ESP, with partners
Microsoft, Sarva Integrated and World Vision Lanka launched disABILITY – an App designed to support children with disability and their families, by connecting them to expert guidance.

The App complements the MJF Foundation’s disability advice channel on YouTube in reaching children and people with disabilities in remote parts of Sri Lanka.

Launched on October 6 th – World Cerebral Palsy Day – the App is the first of its kind globally. It is available in Sinhala, Tamil and English, and offers an invaluable teletherapy services for people with Cerebral Palsy (CP). The App further includes guided disability and development screening, access to paediatricians, early identification and intervention, therapeutic, educational and rehabilitation assistance, and allows caregivers to monitor progress with guidance from the MJF Foundation’s multidisciplinary team.

The collaboration amongst Microsoft, MillenniumIT ESP, Sarva Integrated, World Vision and Dilmah’s Merrill J. Fernando Charitable Foundation (MJFCF), demonstrates the power of collaboration for the common cause. Microsoft provided access to its Azure platform, initiating the collaboration amongst MillenniumIT ESP and the MJF Foundation after MillenniumIT ESP’s innovative efforts at the AI for Accessibility Hackathon in 2019.

“It is with great pleasure that we are contributing to the cause of MJF Charitable Foundation to overcome the stigma of disability in our country, create awareness on Cerebral Palsy and similar development disorders, as well as reach out to those in need of services through our HealthVision solution”, stated Shevan Goonetilleke, Director/CEO, MillenniumIT ESP.

“The COVID-19 crisis has transformed the whole world in terms of how we act and respond and our HealthVision solution was developed to provide personalised healthcare services, accessible to all, whilst bridging the gap between the demand and supply of healthcare services in our local community. With the introduction of the disABILITY App powered by HealthVision, children with special needs and their caretakers will now be able to directly communicate with the MJFCF Team via audio and chat facility through a tri-lingual
service. Further, the platform’s remote monitoring and response ability will ensure patients’ health status can be brought to attention early enough allowing proactive intervention and individualised care”.

The disABILITY project focuses on possibilities and in emphasising the ability of people who are considered disabled, seeks to grow awareness of the estimated 40,000 people with Cerebral Palsy in Sri Lanka and 17 million around the world, and others with Down Syndrome or other developmental disorders.

This requires communication to address the stigma, and evolution of acceptance, respect and inclusion. Sarva Integrated designed and produced an infomercial which will be broadcasted to help Sri Lankans overcome the stigma and isolation of people with disability.

The App aims to share knowledge, therapies and services for people with disability – especially children – in regions of Sri Lanka where access to transport, regular therapy and other services are limited. World Vision will support the dissemination of the App amongst people with disability and support its use by their families.

The lockdown period required therapists and teachers at MJFCF centres to innovate in the provision of services to ensure that children maintained the levels of progress made. The App stemmed from techniques combining these learnings with regular therapy and was developed by MillenniumIT ESP who adapted their Remote Patient Management Platform, HealthVision, to assess, diagnose and continue online therapy for CP affected children who may not have access to such services.

With technical input from Dilmah’s MJF Charitable Foundation and support for Azure services provided by Microsoft Sri Lanka and Maldives, the App has now gone live.
“Words cannot express our excitement at the possibilities in this App – it is a collaboration that will enhance quality of life for thousands. Many families suffer the stigma of people who lack understanding of developmental disorders, and their pain is intensified by lack of access to knowledge, and advice.

We want to extend the service that the MJF Foundation offers in fulfilling the philosophy of my father – Dilmah Founder, Merrill J. Fernando, by delivering these essential therapies and support to people who cannot afford those services. There is no greater fulfillment for a business than to see its efforts touch the lives of marginalised children and youth. Our sincere appreciation to all our partners in this project,” commented Dilhan C. Fernando, CEO of Dilmah and Trustee of the MJF Charitable Foundation.

Among people with disabilities, children are especially vulnerable as undetected disabilities in their early years and delays in rehabilitative initiatives can lead to delays in development. Early identification can help foster stimulating environments where families, healthcare, and education professionals are better prepared to support the development, inclusion, and active participation of children with disabilities.

The disABILITY App will bridge the gap between the families with persons with disabilities and will help provide the necessary services remotely.

Recognising the need for grassroots acceptance of the App in rural areas – World Vision Lanka will pilot the App, introducing it in marginalised communities in which the organisation operates. MJF Charitable Foundation therapists and teachers will support the assessment, diagnosis, referral, follow up and review of the condition and progress of children and others. A national campaign conceptualised by Sarva Integrated is being launched simultaneously to support awareness and inclusion, while sharing
information about the App.

The App is currently available for android phones and tabs on the Google Play Store and will shortly also be available for iOS on the App Store. It is designed in an intuitive manner based on the age of the person needing the associated services and these are available via an interactive platform on any smartphone, requiring only the most basic mobile skills to use the App. Furthermore, the App is also accessible online via the web.

About Dilmah, the Merrill J. Fernando Charitable Foundation and the NCCCPDD
Established in fulfillment of Merrill J. Fernando’s pledge to make business a matter of human service, Dilmah’s commitment to children with disability commenced with the formation of the MJF Charitable Foundation’s Rainbow Centre in 2012. The Centre for Children with Cerebral Palsy and other Developmental Disorders (NCCCPDD) a joint venture with the Cerebral Palsy Lanka foundation opened in 2016. Since then two additional centres have opened in Kalkudah and in Kandy. Approximately 400
children and youth with disability receive daily support from the 4 centres.

Merrill J. Fernando, Dilmah Founder and Settlor of the MJF Charitable Foundation, conceived the idea of a business that would help restore the fortunes of his country’s ailing tea industry, while sharing the benefits of that business with the community. He believed that no business could succeed without the involvement and commitment of workers, staff, clients, consumers and in the case of tea – the environment. He was determined that his business should be a matter of human service. He also acknowledged that success is a blessing from God, and like any blessing, must be shared.

Dilmah and the MJF Charitable Foundation represent an alternative economic model, it goes beyond charity and forms a genuinely sustainable and fair way of doing business. This acknowledges that the value a business is obliged to create includes commercial, social, environmental value.

The Foundation works with underserved communities and invests in the lives of less privileged women, men, girls and boys to ensure that they have control of their futures and pay it forward to their own communities. In 2020 the Foundation hopes to have impacted over 18,000 lives directly with a total of 100,000 lives reached.

Sri Lankan family tea company Dilmah, founded by Merrill J. Fernando, today the world’s most experienced teamaker, has championed quality, authenticity and variety in tea. Dilmah pioneered the concept of Single Origin Tea in 1988 when the family company went against industry trends to declare its commitment to authenticity. Garden fresh, unblended tea is the hallmark of Dilmah and offers a unique taste of unblended Ceylon Tea packed where it’s grown. Dilmah is an Ethical Tea, in that all packaging profits are retained in Sri Lanka and fund the MJF Charitable Foundation and Dilmah Conservation. These attributes form our assurance of Taste, Goodness and Purpose.

About MillenniumIT ESP

MillenniumIT ESP is a subsidiary of Ambeon Holdings PLC, a conglomerate reputed for its market leadership in the areas of financial services, manufacturing, real estate, technology and strategic investments. The company is one of Sri Lanka’s leading Information Systems solution providers delivering IT solutions for several industries including banks and finance companies, telecommunications, apparel and leading conglomerates. Solutions provided by MillenniumIT ESP include Core Infrastructure, Information Security, Business Collaboration, Robotic Process Automation (RPA), Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML), Business Productivity, Cloud, Networking, Managed Services and Customer Relationship Management (CRM). The company also collaborates with leading firms including Oracle, Microsoft, IBM, Dell, Hitachi, Cisco and Infosys. In addition, it has received numerous excellences, innovation and performance-based awards across various markets for
its services around the globe. For more information, visit www.millenniumitesp.com

About Microsoft Sri Lanka and Maldives

In 2004 Microsoft came to Sri Lanka with the ambition of bringing the magic of software to all Sri Lankans, and positively transforming the local IT landscape. Over the years, the company has empowered businesses and enriched lives of over 1.5million people across every corner of the country thereby contributing significantly to change the way ICT permeates in Sri Lanka. Some of the programmes initiated by Microsoft Sri Lanka with simple goals have truly reshaped the way computers and software are perceived and used by many, leaving an indelible mark on the lives of many citizens,
empowering them at their workplace, schools and homes.

About World Vision Lanka

Since 1977, World Vision Sri Lanka has been serving the people of Sri Lanka, in development and relief programmes. The Area Development Programme (ADP) are a long term programme spanning from 12- 15 years that primarily focuses on children and their communities.

Area Rehabilitation Programme (ARP) is an initiative that World Vision Sri Lanka initiated to work with the returned communities to help rebuild their lives and livelihood.

The Street Children Programme cares for the street children in the target areas of the country.

In 2017 World Vision was working with 2000 communities in more than 600 small administrative Divisions located 20 Districts, impacting the lives of over 250,000 children and their families.

Link to English, Sinhalese and Tamil Versions of the Press Release Available:

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