Gosia Kwiatkowska and Ajay Choksi from RIX Research & Media showcased the RIX Multimedia Advocacy Method to academics, educators and practitioners from across the world at the latest Seminar of the EU ‘Social Inclusion for Learners – SOIL’ Project over three days this week, hosted by UEL at the Good Hotel on the Royal Docks. Delegates from Germany, Austria, Netherlands, Romania, Italy, Thailand and China were introduced to the innovative ‘Multimedia Advocacy’ approach to the education of learners with intellectual disabilities.

Dr Prapassara Thanosawan fro the SWU University in Bangkok, Thailand commented that the Seminar’s information about innovative applications of Technology in Special Education shared by RIX Centre Researchers “…has been very stimulating academically. As a Linguistics scholar I have found the ideas about Easy to Read use of language and the use of accessible media tools particularly interesting.” she said.

You can find out more about the SOIL project and it’s outcomes on the project website: http://www.soil-project.eu/en/About-SOIL/

Listening to and Involving Young People

Free Webinar with live Q&A

Aired: Tuesday 6th June 2018, 13:00 – 13:30

Statutory guidance from the Department for Education states that local authorities and schools listen to and involving children and young people when considering how best to provide opportunities for them. Under section 176 of the Education Act 2002 they are required to consult with pupils in connection with the taking of decisions which affect them.

Involving children and young people is their right, in line with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (articles articles 2, 3, 6 and 12). It is at the heart of RIX Multimedia Advocacy to provide children and young people with a voice and opportunities to express their opinion in matters that affect their lives.

Charlton Park Academy’s residential provision ‘Rainbow House’ has just achieved an Ofsted Outstanding report (2018). This is largely because of their commitment to self-advocacy and the use of RIX Wikis and the Multimedia Advocacy approach to encourage all students to become active participants in a democratic society by involving them in school councils, meetings and decision making processes, and helping them to develop their communication skills, co-operation and encouraging them to take responsibility.

We were proud to host this webinar with Kathryn Stowell, who leads this work at Charlton Park Academy. Ms Stowell shared with us how the school is using RIX Wikis and Multimedia to centralise the student voice in everything they do. Kathryn talked about the benefits of this approach and the impact that it has on increased confidence, self-respect, competence and an improved sense of responsibility, as well as increased motivation and engagement with learning.

An inclusive keynote speech opens proceedings at Communication Works 2018

Research & Media were at the Communication Works 2018 conference at Charlton Park Academy, showcasing RIX tools and projects alongside cutting edge leaders in the field of assistive technology. The event, which took place on 25th May, was a large gathering of organisations and individuals disseminating and celebrating technology that continually improves, assists, and includes.

 Representatives from RIX talked to conference attendees about our exciting work on the as part of which we are working with students at Charlton Park Academy testing the Mathisis software. The innovative software has a unique algorithm that has been developed to work with a camera to capture the ‘affect state’ of the learner and then adjust their learning tasks appropriately, with the aim that learning becomes individualized and more effective. RIX intern Ramsey Hufford generated a lot of interest for the project by demonstrating how the Mathisis application can be used to build and achieve learning goals.

RIX Wiki Master Ajay Choksi also walked people through his RIX Wiki, illustrating first-hand how it has helped himself, and others to become self-advocates. People really enjoyed exploring Ajay’s Wiki and being able to look at all the pictures,watch the videos, and hear the audio he uses on the Wiki to tell his story.

Ajay Choksi, and Jack Ansley talk to event attendees

Other exhibitors on the day demonstrated their assistive technology and ran breakout sessions showing how their technology works and can be adapted to individuals. Conference organisers CENMAC had set up a small museum exhibit showing the history of assistive technology since their organisation began in 1968. The museum was shocking, opening the eyes of attendees to the terrible conditions that people with any disability lived through. The museum showed how radically this technology has improved in the last 50 years, and it made us all hopeful for the changes to come. For example, Jim Bowen from C-Pens was presenting on how the C-Pen functions to assist people with dyslexia, or partial sightedness to read. The technology within that small device was astounding, and it is immediately clear how the device could assist everyone in a classroom and build their confidence with reading.

A Crick Software representative demos their AAC software to a classroom filled with educators

Multiple people presented on different types of Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC), ranging from applications to devices dedicated to the pre-installed AAC softwares. Companies like Crick Software Ltd, Smartbox, and Tobii Dynavox demonstrated how their assistive technology is able to empower people to communicate and instantly impact their quality of life.

In short, Communication Works 2018 brought together many organisations and individuals, creating a wonderful environment for learning about inclusive methods and tools and exchanging of ideas. A lot of exhibitors and attendees were excited to hear about the work of RIX Research & Media and we in turn were excited to learn about other projects that are using technology to empower and enable self-advocacy.

Article by Ramsey Hufford