Fran Killoway has invented an app that gives people with disabilities the freedom and empowerment to express themselves and beat loneliness. Here we find out how the technology works, and why it’s so important.
In the past, having a disability often meant being institutionalised and missing out on important communication with friends and loved ones. This has significantly changed in the Western world as more support services and tools for independent living have made it possible for people with disabilities to stay in their own homes. There is new hope, and having a disability is no longer the life sentence it once was, but for millions of people around the world, communication is still a major issue.
The Gift of Communication
According to a survey conducted by the charity Sense, half of disabled people say they feel lonely, with one in four feeling that way every day. Without clear communication, people with disabilities can struggle to understand what others are saying or express their own wants and needs, and these difficulties are exacerbated by sensory disabilities like hearing or visual impairments. Being able to express ourselves and feel part of a community are essential for human growth and development, which is why Fran Killoway created Frasil, an app designed to help people with disabilities express themselves, fight loneliness and live fulfilled lives.
Fran created the app to help every person living with a disability unlock the world of communication in a way that works for them, at the touch of a button. It allows for constant communication and updates between people with disabilities and their loved ones or support workers, allowing for the fast resolution of problems and dramatically reducing feelings of isolation.
Frasil has been developed using state of the art technology that can be adapted to work with a wide range of disabilities, both physical and cognitive. It interacts with a combination of users’ voices, images, symbols and words to create a comprehensive communication platform in which people can express their needs and feelings easily and effectively. Available on both Apple and Android devices, it’s completely customisable according to each user’s individual needs and circumstances, and each user can add their own images for a personalised experience.
A Suite of Services For Independence
The app was developed with feedback from people with disabilities and was subject to a comprehensive research and development programme in order to accommodate everything from simple questions to more challenging, complex requests. The aim is to build the world’s biggest and most diverse community for people with disabilities – a place where nobody feels the pain of isolation and everyone feels free to express themselves clearly and effectively.
Frasil is a suite that includes a family of smaller apps especially created for people with disabilities, including:
My Voice – The device has been programmed with thousands of words to give a voice to those without one, speaking for them and allowing them to express themselves freely.
My Needs – Allows users to communicate urgent, immediate needs, such as hunger or needing to use the toilet.
My Entertainment – Provides users with access to Netflix, Google, Instagram, Facebook, Spotify and other popular entertainment packages, all available on their mobile devices or laptops
My Home – Frasil contains built-in functionality for users to easily control the devices in their homes, including windows, heating, doors, lights and appliances.
My Morning – Allows users to communicate their morning needs such as needing breakfast, brushing teeth, washing and getting up and dressed
My Afternoon – As above, but including regular afternoon needs such as lunch and dinner plans, toileting , watching TV and listening to music
My Evening – Includes important evening needs like choosing something to watch on TV, eating dinner and getting ready for bed
My Family and Friends – The app connects to phone, email, Skype and other communication platforms to give users instant access to friends and family, wherever they may be
My Self – Allows users to express important needs, such as “I need to adjust my glasses” or “Please bring me a glass of water”
My Feelings – Expressing feelings and needs is something most of us take for granted, and with Frasil this essential part of being human is accessible to all
My Shopping – Provides users with access to online shopping and lists
My School – Designed to help children living with disabilities express their needs, access educational materials and communicate with peers, teachers and learning support assistants
My Internet and Email – Connects to Google and email for instant online communication
My Gov – Connects users to government platforms for a holistic view of support services and benefits
My Pension – Provides users with access to government and private pension plans
My Devices – Links with other assistive devices to provide a comprehensive solution for independent living
The app is initially offered on a free trial basis, after which monthly subscriptions are available.
Giving Grace Her Voice
One recent example of Frasil’s life changing technology is a little girl called Grace, who was diagnosed with genetic movement disorder ADCY5-related dyskinesia. The condition is extremely rare, with less than one in a million people living with the diagnosis around the world.
Although Grace is extremely intelligent and aware of everything going on around her, the condition has affected her movements and speech to the point that communication and independent movements have been severely impaired. Without Frasil, Grace would have been a prisoner inside her own body, as she is unable to sit, stand or walk independently and needs 24/7 care and support with toileting and eating.
Daily life is a challenge for both Grace and her parents, made even more tragic as Grace has full cognitive abilities and just hasn’t been able to communicate her needs or express the things in life that bring her joy, like a favourite toy, dress or tv programme. The power of speech is a given for most people, but for Grace communicating the simplest needs seemed impossible – until her parents heard about Frasil.
Fran Killoway’s app has given Grace the most valuable gift of all – the gift of communication. Now the little girl can express herself and “talk” to her family, allowing them to share the important parts of family life while also empowering Grace to communicate important needs and feelings like “I’m cold”, “I need the bathroom” or “I don’t like this TV show”. It’s been a truly life changing experience for Grace and her parents, who can now understand their daughter’s needs without having to use guesswork.
Technology With Humanity at its Heart
Fran has been involved with creating, developing and delivering life changing technologies for more than a decade, having previously taken a start up tech firm from Australia to America and getting it licensed. That technology is now used by a US Fortune 500 company in the defence industry.
As well as her extensive skills and knowledge in the tech industry, Fran’s impressive background includes anthropology, philosophy, psychology, sociology and linguistics. She has worked extensively in research methodologies, strategy and market direction, and has an intrinsic knowledge of how to bring new products to market and make businesses a commercial success. She’s already a multi award winner, with accolades including:
– Business View Magazine’s “Business Woman of the Year – 2020”
– Business Sight Magazine’s “Business Entrepreneurs of the Year 19-20”.
– APAC CIO Outlook Magazine “Top 20 Artificial Intelligence Solution Providers 2018”
– “The Worldwide Who’s Who” 2013 Executive of the Year for representing the Consumer Services Industry
Her latest award from Business Worldwide Magazine is further testament to Fran’s trailblazing work and dedication to making the world a better place for people with disabilities. To find out more about Frasil’s revolutionary technology, visit the company’s website at https://frasil.com/.