The integration of children who have communicative and manipulative disabilities in classroom activities can sometimes pose a significant challenge to educators. Even though there are some technologies that can help children manipulate objects, they are often not integrated with the technology and software that children use to communicate, creating a barrier to use by students with concurrent disabilities.
That is the challenge that the UARPIE project, spearheaded from 2013 by CATÓLICA-LISBON's Pedro Encarnação, was put together to face. Researchers from five partner institutions developed a physical and a virtual Integrated Augmentative Manipulation and Communication Assistive Technology (IAMCAT) that these children could use to manipulate educational items while still allowing for the use of their augmentative and alternative communication system.
The results of the project showed that the robotic systems were considered a useful resource by teachers, and had a positive impact on children with disabilities’ level of participation, communication and manipulation of educational items. Both teachers and parents found the children’s accomplishments surprisingly good. The use of these robotic systems in a classroom setting also alerted classmates to the difficulties that children with disabilities were facing.
Find out more about the UARPIE project here, where all of the resources needed to experiment with the robotic systems can be found, as well as examples on how to use these in the classroom.