ICT students Sam Bahrij and Carlos Garcia

Two Gold Coast Technology students have won the approval of the United Nations by creating a mobile phone application which is connecting disabled people around the world.

Professor of Social Work, Lesley Chenoweth, said Sam Bahrij and Carlos Garcia, had done a brilliant job in making the 1000 voices website more accessible through a smart phone app.

1000 voices is our flagship research project, in which it is our aim to collect 1000 stories about people living with disability. On this site people can share their life stories in the form of text, moving images, poetry, songs, or photos,” Professor Chenoweth said.

“Through the work of Sam and Carlos, people all over the world can now participate in this very important online forum,” she said.

Access to computers is often challenging for people living in developing countries, but mobile devices such as smart phones can also provide a connection to the internet.

The app was developed with some people with disability in Pakistan, who are part of the UN wider project on disability poverty and livelihoods.

Sam Bahrijhas just completed a Bachelor of Multimedia and is now about to start a Law degree. He ultimately would like to work for the United Nations and is delighted this joint project has been recognised by the UN.

“So the app could work on any mobile device we had to develop it for quite old technology and that was a bit of a challenge,” Sam said.

Carlos Garcíais also a Bachelor of Multimedia graduate and is now doing Honours. He arrived in Australia just four years ago, and says his studies have transformed his life.

“Four years ago I had never used a computer. I didn’t even know how to use a vending machine,” Carlos said.

“Everything I know about computers I learned at Griffith University,”

The 1000 voices project appealed to Carlos in more ways than one.

“I really felt very much connected with this application for people with a disability because for most of the year I have been bed-ridden with a bad back,” Carlos said.

“It was during this time that I decided I really wanted to do something for the community.”

And Carlos’ experience has brought an unexpected reward.

“I applied for an IT job and when I went for the interview I showed him the app. He was so impressed I now have a full-time job which I can do from home while my back heals,” Carlos said.

Professor Chenoweth says the project shows the unlimited opportunities which can come from studying Information and Communication Technology.

“A degree in ICT brings the potential to do wonderful things and really make a difference on a global scale,” Professor Chenoweth said.