Wednesdays@DEI: Talks, 31-05-2023

Author and Affiliation: Professor Hugo Nicolau, DEI Professor

Title: Mixed-ability Technologies: Towards a Novel Paradigm to Assistive Technologies
Abstract: Blind and visually impaired (VI) children are increasingly educated in mainstream rather than special schools. However, existing practices and technologies tend to prioritise accessibility over inclusion; they are designed to be used by children with visual impairments alone (e.g., screen readers and magnification software) and not by their sighted peers, reducing opportunities for shared classroom experiences. Indeed, recent studies show that children with disabilities face issues related to classroom participation, lack of collaborative learning, reduced social engagement, and the potential for isolation. Interactive and multisensory technologies have the potential to significantly reduce barriers to inclusion, providing unique opportunities to enhance inclusive education by enabling children, both with and without impairments, to actively engage with the same technology. However, this potential remains largely untapped. In this talk, I will explore two research projects that leverage interactive robots to create inclusive experiences for children with mixed-visual abilities.