Podgorica, 1 December 2021 – Seid is a cheerful, calm six-year-old who goes to kindergarten and likes to listen to music. He was born with a speech impairment. Since he started using Cboard application, he has been able to communicate using symbols, and this lets his parents and three siblings understand more easily, how he is feeling and what he wants.

The Cboard application was introduced through the “A Voice for Every Child” programme, led by Montenegro’s Bureau for Education Services with support from UNICEF.

“Before Cboard, if he had toothache that made him upset and cry, we could not immediately understand what was wrong and what was hurting,” says Dorina Ljuca, Seid’s mother.

“Now, when he wants to eat grapes, he finds that symbol on the screen, points to it with his finger and then a voice generated by the app says – I want to eat grapes”.

Dorina Ljuca

Dorina Ljuca, Seid’s mother UNICEF Montenegro / Duško Miljanić / 2021

Cboard helps children with disabilities to develop pointing gestures and to become more skilled in communication. It encourages verbalization and facilitates socialization with their family and other children. Seid uses the Cboard application to help him in kindergarten and in the Resource Centre for children with disabilities.

His preschool teacher, Snezana Scekic says that the activities in kindergarten, such as eating breakfast and lunch and going to the toilet, are included in the application.

Snezana Scekic

Preschool teacher Snezana Scekic UNICEF Montenegro / Duško Miljanić / 2021

Preschool teacher Snezana Scekic tells about how Seid is interested in the application, in Podgorica, in December 2021. “I notice that Seid is interested in the application and that he is happy to use it. When he shows exactly what he wants, we reward him”.

Snezana Scekic, Seid’s preschool teacher Teaching assistant, Mirnela Muratovic also thinks that Seid now communicates more easily with her and other teachers.

‘’The Cboard app takes a little getting used to. To encourage Seid, we created activities in kindergarten using the Cboard symbols – and he was able to see how these symbols let him communicate with us and with other children”.

Mirnela Muratović Mirnela Muratovic, Seid’s teaching assistant UNICEF Montenegro / Duško Miljanić / 2021

Teaching assistant Mirnela Muratovic tells about how Seid now communicates more easily with her and other teachers, in Podgorica, in December 2021.

Since the Cboard app was launched in 2019, a total of 75 children with speech and language impairments have received this application. Professionals from three Resource Centres and teaching staff from five kindergartens and schools in Podgorica, Niksic, and Bar work with children to use this app.

Anita Maric from the Bureau for Education explains that the Cboard application is an assistive tool designed to help children communicate their lack of verbal and non-verbal communication. The Cboard is helping families and teachers become more aware of their children’s full potential.

Anita Maric from the Bureau for Education The programme, “A Voice for Every Child” was launched by the Bureau for Education Services in 2019. The programme expanded in 2021 and is part of an EU-funded project aimed at mitigating the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the lives of children and families in the Western Balkans and Turkey.

Martin Bedouret