By Gonzalo Bazgan, Community Affairs Lead, Microsoft Argentina & Uruguay
JUAN IGNACIO MANDOLESI AND THE REST OF THE TEAM OF APPLIR 2.0 RECEIVING THE COMPROMISO 2.0 AWARD
Most of us are counting more on social networks as a fundamental element of our day to day work and lives. We are changing the way we do things and also looking forward to increasing the social impact of our activities. This is possible through the emergence of social networking tools such as Facebook and Twitter which enable people to share ideas and pictures, easily build communities and communicate with their personal or professional networks.
Nevertheless, there are still some groups which are left behind by this wave of new technologies, and not just the people who have no access to the Internet. That was the first thought that came to our minds when we heard of APPLIR 2.0, a social network targeted for people with intellectual disabilities.
‘Internet for Everyone’ - APPLIR 2.0 is a social network specially created and intended for youth with reading and writing disorders. Noted for its simple and original design, this project is the first worldwide social network for people with these challenges (please see screenshot below).
The ‘Internet for Everyone’ - APPLIR 2.0 project was created by the nonprofit APPLIR (an acronym in Spanish for The Rosario Association of Parents for Equality) who won first place in the Compromiso 2.0 contest: Your Innovative Web Idea for Social Transformation. This contest aimed to foster a space of integration and collaboration for developers, designers, technological entrepreneurs and social organizations in Argentina, and was organized by Microsoft together with La Plata Valley (a local network of developers) and the nonprofit Idealistas.org.
APPLIR was created in 2007 by a group of parents of children with intellectual disabilities who initially intended to address their teenage children’s needs and demands. The project has expanded to raise social awareness of these issues.
APPLIR 2.0 is built using Microsoft technology provided by the WebsiteSpark and was recognized as one of the best web-based technology programs addressing social issues as part of the ‘Starting Up Responsibly’ program led by La Plata Valley.Out of 200 projects, APPLIR was one of only 10 that were selected for the final round for their innovative nature and social impact.
Upon receiving the award, Juan Ignacio Mandolesi, developer of ‘Internet for Everyone’ - APPLIR 2.0, said: ‘When I found out about the Compromiso 2.0 initiative, I wanted to help my sister and other intellectually disabled young people to gain access to the Internet since this social connections online are becoming increasingly important for everyone and and they were left out. This project brings them online and gets them connected in the world of social networks.’
Social networks are now core tools in our life and work. As important as they are, these new technologies go beyond the actual tool. The real transformation is the shift in the way people think, form groups, and socialize.
The APPLIR Project continues to develop. The next version is currently in beta and will bring new features and support for more people with intellectual challenges.