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A vision to connect... Blue Assist

Clipboard with Pencil_16x16Sometimes a good idea is so simple and therefore so ingenious. In a highly connected society no one should be left out. People with an intellectual disability however need to ask for help sometimes, but are not always able to connect with the people around them. They want to take the bus for example, but are not sure which one will go to the downtown. They are in a bakery and discover that they don’t have enough money with them to pay for the bread they just ordered. Normally these are situations where they would just need a few moments of help from others and the problem would be solved. The people of Ithaka, a coaching organization, analyzed the problem by asking a few simple questions.

Question 1: Where are the people who could help? Answer: Normally help could come from the people around them at the bus-stop or at the bakery.

Question 2: What could we do to let people with an intellectual disability connect with the people who could provide help? Answer: Let’s make an App for it.

This week they presented their vision and the iPhone App, called Blue Assist, that comes with it. In the App you can choose to store information or messages that a person could need when he gets stuck in a situations. The App is so user friendly that a person with an intellectual disability can easily choose from a menu of picture or symbols, what he wants to ask to a person around him so he can get the support he needs. The results of the Blue Assists test projects that are running right now are very promising. The blue screen does the trick. Just like a white stick for people with a visual disability, the blue screen of Blue Assist will become the international symbol of people with an intellectual disability that want to connect.

The Belgian public transport organization De Lijn has agreed to be the first Blue Assist friendly organization. They explicitly support the Blue Assist project and they informed all the drivers of their busses and trams about it. Now the users of the App can easily connect with the drivers whenever necessary.

The people from Ithaka did everything right. No heavy R&D investments and no complex software development. No patronizing of people with an intellectual disability. Instead they listened respectfully to the needs of there target group, used existing technology of the smart phones and build an easy to use software to it. In this way they created many new possibilities and more freedom for people who need that little help sometimes.

  • the Blue Assist App will be available on the App store before the end of 2012
  • For references please visit:

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The Blue Assist Team presenting the project on the premises of the Belgian Parliament