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Teaching Through Virtual Reality

6 years ago on Sunday, April 1, 2018

Technology has come a long way from overhead projectors, chalk boards and dial up internet. For people with disabilities technology has paved a path of independence. Over the years, we have seen technology make tremendous advances for all people with disabilities as they go through their day-to-day life. So, what’s new in the world of technology that has the disability community on their feet?

Meet the Floreo team: They are in the process of pilot testing a new product that helps young people with disabilities work on soft skills through Virtual Reality. The student is engaged in a new wave of hands on learning to help guide them as they work on skills, such as communication skills. The Floreo product is being tested both in a school with special needs students, as well as with therapy professionals.

The product itself works in two ways; from the perspective as the user, and from the perspective of the VR headset, where professional staff can monitor the progress of the student. While this product has not yet hit stores, will this program benefit those with disabilities, and how will this change the way we work with those with disabilities?

When you were a kid do you remember looking up to a family member? Or have you been the role model for someone in your life? The level of influences and motivation a role model can have is then apparent to you. In the media, you can find many role models but, in the disability community, you have less individuals with hidden disabilities being role models to look up to and learn from. You might hear of an actor or a professional athlete being vocal about living life with a learning disability, but beyond that it is difficult to find a role model.

Why is this? Maybe because many individuals with learning disabilities keep this to themselves and feel insecure about sharing this with their peers. When I was going to college for my bachelor’s degree, I can only recall one time in the 4-year period a student talking about their learning disability. Learning disabilities are hidden disabilities that are rarely talk about but are the most common disability out there and that needs to change.

When I was in grade school through high school, I would not deal or talk about my learning disability, and yet I was able to manage. Once I was in college, it was sink or swim. I needed accommodations to make school work for me, which included extra time on tests and a quiet room. Wow, what a difference! Just accepting and being more visible with my learning disability allowed school to be something I looked forward to, rather than dread.

Looking back I wonder, “What if I had role models growing up?” Would that have made more me accepting of my learning disability at a younger age, and what opportunities would I have had. So, this is a call out to everyone with a learning disability: Make an effort to be that role model to help fill that void. So, less youth have to feel they must hide their disability, and struggle in school because they are ashamed of their hidden learning disability.

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