A new smartphone app has been developed that aims to challenge the traditional way those living with disability connect and form lifelong friendships.


Most mainstream social networking sites have blind spots when it comes to the safety, accessibility, inclusivity and support needs of people with disabilities.


However, the new app, dubbed Alvie, is a first-of-its-kind social platform that provides a safe space for those living with disability to interact. 


The app joins others such as the communication system Proloquo2GO, speech-to-text offering RogerVoice and Autism Spectrum Disorder-focussed Choiceworks in embracing inclusivity and acting as tools to enhance accessibility, independence and quality of life.   


The app was designed by disabilities community organiser Steve Bear to connect those living with disabilities with like-minded people who share similar life experiences, interests and hobbies to facilitate relationships and enrich friendships.


Bear said Alvie’s algorithm has been designed to match members on age, location, interests and hobbies for more manageable connections and increased member compatibility.


When speaking with Smart Company, Bear said the app’s main purpose is to provide emotional assistance for its users, particularly from loneliness.


“From my experience of working with many children with all kinds of disabilities, I understand that loneliness and isolation are one of the biggest challenges these kids face day-to-day, and can lead to lack of personal and social development, as well as an increased risk of mental illness,” he told the online site.


“Building Alvie was an opportunity to give people with disabilities at any age, a safe space created specifically for them, where they can feel comfortable, accepted for who they are and experience more social interactions that will hopefully form into meaningful friendships.”


Safety is also a huge priority for developers, with all members required to complete a police check to ensure they are genuine. 
 The only location information developers request is the member’s suburb and postcode which is used in the background to match members with others in their location. It is not displayed publicly on their profile. 


Developers have applied to the NDIS Commission for certification to allow NDIS participants who are self-managed and/or plan-managed to claim Alvie charges immediately. The app is free to sign up until September when developers hope to receive the NDIS verification.


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