The world today is connected, powered and driven by technology. The technology keeps on advancing every day. Also, there is hardly any field left out that isn’t impacted by technology.
The presence of technology in education is very strong. It is impossible to leave technology out of the learning process for today’s so-called digital natives. So, parents and educators in the UAE feel that well-planned lessons and focused guidance are key towards facilitating the effective integration of screens and online resources in education. Even kindergarten children today use tablets for learning, which has become all about seeing things in action and then doing it yourself.
The use of technology in education is benefiting even the children with disabilities.
Assertive technologies are used by the Al Noor Training Centre to help the children with disabilities, to communicate. It is also used for playing musical instruments, operating a computer, splash painting on canvas, designing garments, switching on a kettle, handling a sandwich maker and even playing video games.
The children at the Centre are with conditions ranging from cerebral palsy to development disabilities. They use speech software loaded on to a tablet attached to their wheelchairs.
In February this year, in Dubai, Children with disabilities fixed solar panels on the roofs of toy homes. They used robots to mirror their movements, smart pens to connect to the internet. They watched a 3D printer operate as part of a project to fuse technology with teaching.
An innovation centre was launched on in the same month by the Dubai Electricity & Water Authority (DEWA) at the Dubai Rehabilitation Centre for the Disabled. The Centre aims to help the disabled children understand the changes taking place in the world, from sustainability to smart technology.
Today, there is so much technology in the world. This technology will help the children to be a part of the community. Every child at the Al Noor Training Centre has innate creativity and talent. They, however, do not get an opportunity to express themselves because they have physical and cognitive limitations. The devices give them an opportunity to express their creativity. It gives them access to art that otherwise they would not have had because they can’t hold a conventional paint brush or crayon.
Through this, their level of confidence and self-esteem gets boosted. They can express and address any feeling of frustration or behavioural challenges that they would be going through.
The students at the Centre get an easy access to a range of developmental facilities. These facilities include a music room wherein they can practice playing digital musical instruments on tablets or through computers with keyboards.
There is also an art room. It has a larger version of a mouse which is used for choosing a range of colours via a device called the switch technology. Their art work is displayed on mugs, t-shirts, posters and conference logos.
Pupils with stronger motor skills use the eye gaze technology to draw designs. These designs are later converted into bags, gowns and garments on display at the centre’s store.
The devices also give them the ability to make their own choices when listening to music, watching television or video.
A student with severe physical disability can use eye gaze tech to change channels and watch a program of his or her own choice. The child is then not dependent on a caregiver and does not have to watch what the caregiver wants. This autonomy of being able of making their own decisions holds immense important.
The Centre has also adapted technology for vocational learning, computer and IT training, and different types of education and training. This is with the aim of making the children with disabilities capable of standing on their own feet and secure some job through which they can earn an income.
The Al Noor Training Centre held ‘Assistive TechX’ from 1st to 3rd November. It was a three-day exhibition and series of workshops with an aim to showcase the students’ ability and encourage companies to come forward with employment initiatives and training.