Special Educational Needs Students Use Virtual Reality To Help Navigate Real World

Special Educational Needs Students Use Virtual Reality To Help Navigate Real World

Students at School for Special Educational Needs (SEN) in Cheltenham are using virtual reality (VR) technology to learn how to interact with the real world through a free interaction with a CGI IT services company.

After an initial project involving the use of virtual reality to help students with autism interact and communicate in a local store, Bettridge School plans to virtualize more real world environments using computer graphics.

The school trains young people with special educational needs, including students with autism. Through the relationship of teachers and CGI staff, schools can meet with vendors and think about what technological innovation can do for schools and their students.

Joe Bleasdale, Principal of the Bethridge School, said: "This is a great opportunity because we can connect with a company that has all these innovations." "CGI is passionate about how innovation can help us as a school."

As the main problem, he pointed to the struggle of schoolchildren for integration into the real world. “The real world is a very scary place, especially for people with autism,” she says.

Blaisdale said that during initial discussions, the UK was on lockdown due to Covid-19 and schools were unable to bring students into the community to practice functional and life skills. This begins the conversation about virtual worlds with computer graphics.

"The idea of ​​Rushheim grew to create an environment that could be used during the lockdown and that would be useful for future maps," Blaisdale said.

“For example, it is very important for some of our young people to go to the store, which is a normal event for most people. "Virtual reality allows students to get used to places like shops in a safe environment where weirdness can be eliminated."

In the past, schools took photos of the environment and sometimes videos to show students before gradually introducing them to the real environment.

The environment is displayed on a map and a VR version of it is created. Blaisdale says the environment should be the same as the real one. It can't just be a store, it should be the same as the real store they are going to visit. "For autistic learners, you can't make it happen because what you see is what you have to get, otherwise it doesn't make sense," he said.

CGI maps local shops, and schools plan to create more realistic locations. “This is an advanced project, but it will be adapted to other scenarios,” Blaisdale said.

The first conversations with CGI took place at the end of 2020, and the first launch of the technology took place in the summer of 2022.

Blaisdale adds that students readily embrace virtual reality because they are accustomed to this type of technology.

Patrick Hutchings, senior vice president of secure innovation and advisory services at CGI, said: “Part of the culture of CG is building relationships with the communities in which we live and work. This free project was introduced by one of our employees who discovered that our technology could really help students in schools. We look forward to replicating this successful example in other schools and groups.”

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