All the children in the world have the right to be educated. No matter where they come from, what their family background is, it is a must that they should be taught and educated. A child can have different types of mentalities. Even though most of the children are categorized as normal, there is a proportion of the world who are born with special needs. When I say “Children with Special Needs” it does not only belong to the children with physical disabilities. There are other types of disabilities and disorders. Major categories include learning disabilities, communication disorders, and developmental disabilities.
If a child cannot identify, recognize objects and has issues with learning new things he or she is identified as a child with learning disabilities. Mainly Dyspraxia and Dyslexia are under this learning disability category. There are methods to diagnose these disabilities in the medical area. And we all are aware of physical disabilities. If a child has limited physical functioning or mobility issues, then the child is identified as a child with a physical disability. Furthermore, physical disabilities can cause by epilepsy, forceps and post birth accidents too. Blindness, muscular disorders, Cerebral palsy, Angel-man disorders and there are few other physical disorders too. Communication disorders occur when the child has language and speech impairments. It includes hearing impairments, and also autism spectrum disorder. The children who suffer from down syndrome, slow learners have development disabilities which affect both mental and physical development. These can be caused by genetic reasons, after birth infections, epilepsy, etc.
I have volunteered in a School for children with special needs. The school facilitates education for about 200 children and these children had different types of disabilities and disorders. For the period of 6 months, I understood why it is important to educate all the children. And especially why special children need to be educated. Words cannot explain how the parent’s sacrifices themselves to make their special children educate. When I say to educate, they don’t have many dreams. They don’t expect their child to become a doctor or an engineer. They all want their kids to be educated to be independent. Because they don’t want their child to become helpless when they die. This is the sole truth about all the parents who have a child with special needs.
There are some parents who have two, three special children in one family. And most of you will think that having a special child in the family is the end of happiness. You will think that all their life will be spent in sorrow, pity, and sympathy. No, that is not true. Having a child with special needs is a blessing to the family. Happiness is protected in the family. If the parents stick together, they will witness all the special milestones of their child. I have seen the happiness in parents’ face. Their tears of joy of their son’s or daughter’s success. Whereas, there are children with special needs who have been abandoned from their birth. But they should be educated to be independent. To build their confidence. They should not be cornered or abandoned. Education is their right.
I wanted to emphasize the fact that all children must be educated. The mode of educating the child is different from child to child. Same as the normal children, for the special children, they need to be inspected, recognize their positive and weak points and then educate them using the correct methods. Since I had the chance to spend 6 months is the special school as a volunteered IT, instructor, I observed them. I talked with the teachers. I talked with the students. Teachers dedicate themselves to the maximum to make the student life to the fullest.
First, they observe the child. They do not jump to teach them ABC or 123. They read about their history. Their medical background. They observe the child’s behaviour. And then starts with simple steps such as sitting with them. Talking. Drawing with them. These are the steps taken for a 2 to a 5-year-old special child. And when they become older, they use different techniques. The most common issue among the students is to keeping attention to the processes. It is really hard with any child. And more with special children. As I said, I was an IT instructor and what I observed was that children love their computer period. Why was that?
The reason is, it was new to them. Technology is an interesting area for anyone. And imagine these children. They loved their computer time because they had the chance to play with tech gadgets. The sole purpose of the time slot is to educate them in a different technique and report their behaviour. It was a drastic change. Even the teacher’s notices. The interactive whiteboard, Tablet computers are the equipment’s we used. And for the children who are older than 15 they had the chance to use the computer as well. And that is when I understood technology can actually make an influence to enhance the special education process.
Currently, there are few devices which are used in the special education process. Computers, laptops, tablets, interactive whiteboards projectors are some of them.And if we think out of the box, we can actually use the wearable devices in the education process too.
Wearable Intelligence is the result of augmenting Artificial Intelligence with Portable Devices. Wearable Intelligent Devices has reached a new level of computer and human interaction. As we all are familiar, watches, glasses, clothes, shoes, mini computers can be considered as portable devices. And these portable devices allows you to do a minimum set of tasks by giving the attention to the device. But when it comes to Wearable Intelligent devices, it allows you to do more tasks with less or no attention given to the device
Wearable devices such as smart watches, smart glasses are used in our day to day life to make it smarter. We use them for medical purposes, fitness and health, entertainment. And there are so many types of devices too. Different heads up displays including AR, VR boxes, smart glasses, headbands. Types of ear ware such as ear bobs, headsets hearing aids. Jewellery such as smart watches, bracelets, rings. And Smart Shirts, gloves and hand wore terminals too.
As an IT undergraduate, I have researched on wearable devices. And it has the potential of providing an enhance special education experience for the children with special needs.
VR and AR boxes are ideal for children with learning difficulties. They are most likely to be visual learners. So these devices can create a platform which can provide a visual environment for the learning process. Moreover, for any child, these can be used as a media to keep their attention to the education process. The 3D environment has the ability to make the child concentrate on the object when necessary. It can be computerized to me dynamic according to the child’s behaviour and reactions. And when it comes to the children with physical disabilities, these heads up displays can be used to provide guidance and a different learning experience. For the children with visual impairments smart glass can act as a guide to overcome obstacles and to enhance their senses. And AR, VR boxes can provide the virtual and augmented experience for the children who cannot physically visit places. And these devices can be used as trainers to the children to encourage them to do physical movements.
Teresa Wu, Jeffrey Tully and Christian Dameff have concluded a research with the Google glass, and has discovered that it is capable of creating a context of role play based learning. Which also provides a base to prove that wearable intelligence can be actually used to enhance special education.
Devices such as smart watches bracelets are ideal devices for the students to encourage in the education process. For children with developmental disabilities, these devices can act as reminders and as a trainer for the children. To remind them to do tasks. To monitor their behaviour. And also the hand-worn terminals such as gloves can be mainly used with the students with communication disorders. The gestures or the hands can be converted and can provide an interaction between the child and the teacher. In a research and a reviews paper done by Harmeet , Abhishek Amit , Keshav and Khushboo has described the smart glove evolution , and they have analysed the ways that this device to capture the hand and gesture movements. Which is ideal for the special needs students to provide a more stronger communication in the learning process.
Furthermore, there are systems which can be embedded in to these smart devices. Such as computer based speech therapy systems. Devices which supports translation facilities can also be used so that the children are encouraged to interact. A. Schipor, G. Pentiuc and D. Schipor have researched on these therapy systems using fuzzy expert technology and embedding them in to wearable devices to create a personal assistant.
Most children are discouraged because the teacher or their parents are unable to understand their needs. By using this small equipment, the child does not feel uncomfortable and they can provide a better communication facility too.
In my opinion, these wearable devices are ideal to provide more enhanced experience in the education field. Despite the traditional methods of education the teachers and the parents should be encouraged to use these devices too. They should understand the value of these devices and should show the drastic change these Wearable Intelligent devices can do. Using these devices does not affect their job. It provides a helping hand to give a better understanding for the child. And a unique learning experience to the child. If they are able to use these devices and enhance the education process to the next level, I think the special children can be educated more and make their life better too.