A Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF) Small Fund has been allocated to develop the Assistive Technology for Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (AT4SEND) Training Package. This will be an add-on to the existing AT4SEND Android Application that was previously developed by Dr Paul Whittington, Dr Huseyin Dogan and Professor Keith Phalp through Quality Research Funding. AT4SEND is an Android Application that recommends assistive technologies based on peoples’ physical and cognitive abilities and further details are available at: https://hci.bournemouth.ac.uk/project/at4send/
The HEIF project (Principal Investigator: Dr Paul Whittington and Co-Investigators: Dr Huseyin Dogan, Dr Nan Jiang and Professor Keith Phalp) will commence in May 2021 and complete by end of July 2021 with a sub-contractor developing the training package. The aim of the add-on is to enhance assistive technology training for teachers, teaching assistants and support staff, therefore promoting the use of assistive technology in an educational environment. This aligns to the UK Government’s current strategy, ‘Realising the potential of technology in education’, which is supported by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Assistive Technology. The training package will consist of resources on available assistive technologies, including links to online videos and quizzes focusing on specific technologies. We are viewing AT4SEND as a form of continuous professional development with defined pass marks for the quizzes.
During the initial requirements elicitation phase of the project, we will have discussions with schools and assistive technology providers, to determine the features and functionality of the training package. Once the training package has been developed, we will approach mainstream and special educational needs schools to conduct evaluations involving their staff. This is anticipated to be in time for the start of the new academic year in September 2021. Based on our previous SmartAbility and Authentibility Pass research, we have existing contacts with local schools and charities, who will be involved in the project, such as Victoria Education Centre and London Grid for Learning. Dr Whittington and Dr Dogan are academic representatives on the Smart Homes and Independent Living Commission and the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Assistive Technology who will both be approached for disseminating the training package.
Once the development has been completed, the application is anticipated to be available on the Google Play Store. We will post another article on completion of the development where we will include screenshots of the AT4SEND Training Package.