The Education Authority (EA) is keen to develop an educational tool(s) that can be used within a classroom setting targeting the needs of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ADS) from the ages of 3 – 19 years to improve their educational, social and behavioural outcomes.
EA has secured £150,000 funding from the Government’s Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) Fund to commission this project. SBRI enables public sector bodies to connect with technology organisations to stimulate the development of innovative solutions to specific public sector challenges and needs.
SBRI can support projects through the stages of feasibility and prototyping that are often hard to fund commercially in the open market and offers an excellent opportunity for businesses, especially early stage companies, to develop and demonstrate technology, supported by an intelligent lead customer.
In Northern Ireland more than 7,000 children have ASD. There is emerging evidence that immersive technology can have a positive impact on the education, emotional and social skills of young people with autism.
In June 2018 companies where invited to tender for phase 1 of the project. Fifteen bidders responded to the invitation to tender, and following shortlisting and interview, four companies have been selected to develop a range of virtual and augmented reality approaches. The four companies successful in the tender process are; Big Motive, Cadscan, Neurotech Ltd and Sentireal.
This initial phase of the SBRI is intended to show the technical feasibility of the proposed concept and its viability as a solution for the EA.
The brief for this phase of the project is:
- to develop: age appropriate technology that is consistent with the teaching environment,
- to develop technology that supports the curriculum and educational outcomes and enhances social, emotional and behavioral interactions
- to include children and young people with ASD in the design process.
Phase 1 will be completed by the end of November 2018.