Changing the Game for Those With Disabilities

2017

A team of students and professors at Centro Universitário Ritter dos Reis (UniRitter) believes that new technologies have the potential to prepare those with disabilities for real life situations even before they encounter them. A team of students from UniRitter’s digital games course, led by faculty members Isabel Cristina Siqueira da Silva and Luan Carlos Nesi, partnered with a local special education school to build a gamified virtual environment paired with interactive technologies that allow young participants to playfully learn and improve their day-to-day skills doing common tasks.

“Adolescents with multiple disabilities often experience social risk and vulnerability,” Siqueira da Silva said. “These technologies help promote access and inclusion.” The game developed by students is divided into physical spaces in a person’s daily life, including a kitchen, living room, bathroom, and bedroom. It then simulates tasks like putting on shoes, cooking a meal, sweeping the house, brushing teeth, and using the telephone. As participants move through the spaces and complete tasks, occupational therapy students from the university are able to advise them and build treatment plans based on those tasks they have difficulties with.

The school where the technology was installed has more than 400 students and has the potential to be used by those with mild, moderate, and severe disabilities. As this interactive method of learning has been tested and implemented, the response has been overwhelmingly positive. In a playful, inclusive, and simple way, the group from UniRitter is making use of technology to change the game for those with disabilities.