The Learning Disabilities Society Partners with the University of Waterloo to Study the Benefits of Social Robot Interaction with Children with Learning Disabilities

The Learning Disabilities Society Partners with the University of Waterloo to Study the Benefits of Social Robot Interaction with Children with Learning Disabilities

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

PDF version here

Vancouver, B.C., November 30, 2020 – Today, the Learning Disabilities Society (LDS) announced partnership with the University of Waterloo’s Social and Intelligent Robotics Research Laboratory (SIRRL) to study the potential for assistive robot technology incorporation in programfor children with suspected or diagnosed learning disabilities and related disabilities, such as dyslexia, dyscalculia, auditory processing disorders, ADHD and others.    

Through partnership with SIRRL, LDS is expanding its assistive technology program to incorporate developments in state-of-the-art assistive robotics with multiple potential benefits that include increased engagement, improved speech language progress, enhanced social-emotional learningand enhanced accessibility during periods with restrictive COVID-19 protocols 

By partnering with the University of Waterloo SIRRL, we will have the opportunity to study the incorporation of leading-edge social robotics technology that has been used successfully to advance social skills and emotion control with children with cognitive disabilities including autism,” said Rachel ForbesExecutive Director, LDS. The results of our collaboration could make a transformative difference in the learning outcomes for our student community. 

University of Waterloo’s SIRRL was founded in 2018 by Professors Kerstin Dautenhahn and Chrystopher Nehaniv to pursue advancements in social robotics, human-robotic interaction, cognitive and developmental robotics and embodied artificial intelligence. The goal of SIRRL’s research is to advance knowledge in social and intelligent robotics and to develop robots that can make a positive contribution to human society. Lead investigator Dr. Dautenhahn, Canada 150 Research Chair in Intelligent Robotics, has studied human-robot interaction for over 20 years, including extensive work with robots working together with human instructors to teach children social skills in ways not possible with only human instructors.  

am excited to partner with the Learning Disabilities Society to investigate assistive robot interaction with students with learning and related disabilities,” said Professor DautenhahnCo-Director SIRRL. “During my research over the past 20 years I have observed remarkable engagement of children with autism with assistive robots that the children found highly approachable. am excited to extend this work to now include students with learning and related disabilities and to incorporate our findings into individual programs with very material, positive impact. 

LDS and SIRRL plan to commence a pilot assistive robot study with students at LDS Learning Centre starting in 2021 with significant potential for program expansion over time. The partnership furthers the efforts of LDS and SIRRL to ensure accessibility and inclusiveness of educational support for all children and youth with special education needs. 

LDS is grateful to its thoughtful and generous community of supporters who through financial and in-kind donations are enabling LDS to develop and expand its assistive technology offerings for children and youth.  

As a non-profit, Vancouver-based charity, LDS relies on donations and community support in order to sustain its programming and provide bursaries to families in financial need. Those interested in making a financial contribution to help vulnerable students with learning and related disabilities are encouraged to visit LDS’s Giving page: https://ldsociety.ca/giving/  

  

Media Contacts:  

Rachel S. Forbes
Executive Director, Learning Disabilities Society
604.345.9129 ed@ldsociety.ca
https://ldsociety.ca

Dr. Kerstin Dautenhahn
Director of SIRRL, University of Waterloo
519-888-4567 x314155
kerstin.dautenhahn@uwaterloo.ca
https://uwaterloo.ca/social-intelligent-robotics-research-lab/

 

Resources:

Photos available (SIRRL): https://uwaterloo.ca/social-intelligent-robotics-research-lab/ or via ed@ldsociety.ca 

Video available (LDS RISE-AT) https://ldsociety.ca/assistivetechnology/  

Video available (SIRRL Beyond Human) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Re4g6hxzSDE&list=PLawkBQ15NDEne8Gt2kzdmSjew5NmgDoIQ 

About Learning Disabilities Society (LDS):  

Founded in 1970, LDS is a non-profit charity that serves children with suspected or diagnosed learning disabilities by providing customized learning support. LDS’s Research-informed Individualized Student Education (RISE) program enables students to understand their unique strengths and find success in the classroom and beyondLDS is committed to making high-quality, affordable learning support accessible to all families, regardless of circumstance.  

About University of Waterloo Social and Intelligent Robotics Research Laboratory (SIRRL):  

SIRRL was founded in August 2018 when Professors Kerstin Dautenhahn and Chrystopher Nehaniv moved from the United Kingdom to University of Waterloo. SIRRL research is situated in the fields of social robotics, human-robot interaction, cognitive and developmental robotics and embodied artificial intelligence. SIRRL is on a journey to discover fundamental principles and mechanisms that can make robots more socially intelligent, as well as enabling them to interact with people in a trustworthy and efficient but also “natural” and socially acceptable manner. The goal of SIRRL’s research is to advance knowledge in social and intelligent robotics and to develop robots that can make a positive contribution to human society. 

 

Local Charity Provides Children with Learning Disabilities Access to Leading Edge Assistive Technologies to Help Them Excel in School and Life

Local Charity Provides Children with Learning Disabilities Access to Leading Edge Assistive Technologies to Help Them Excel in School and Life

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

PDF version here

VANCOUVER., November 23, 2020 – Today, the Learning Disabilities Society (LDS) announced the launch of its RISE Assistive Technology Program (RISE-AT) which incorporates an impressive collection of leadingedge assistive technology hardware and software tools to assist children and youth with learning disabilities and social-emotional challenges 

LDS is a local non-profit charity that currently provides Research-informed Individualized Student Education (RISE) programming to students with suspected or diagnosed learning disabilities, such as dyslexia, dyscalculia, auditory processing disorders, ADHD and others.  LDS is now furthering the accessibility and inclusiveness of its support with the launch of RISE-AT to provide students with additional opportunities to leverage their individual strengths. RISE-AT is helping LDS instructors teach more effectively, promote greatestudent engagement, and enhance student learning and progress. 

am extremely proud to be collaborating with our growing list of 15 technology company sponsors to be able to offer this exceptional collection of assistive technology educational supports to our students,” said Rachel Forbes, Executive Director, Learning Disabilities Society. “After doing extensive research on how assistive technology is being used effectively with children with learning differences around the world, we have assembled a group of software and hardware tools that will not only provide our students new tools and strategies for academic success, but will also help build their engagement, confidence and ability to self-regulate.” 

To further inspire community engagement and access, LDS has built its RISE-AT Studio which showcases leading-edge assistive hardware and software tools and is available for public access and trialLDS’s goal is to inspire a collaborative community of technology users and developers to advance assistive technology innovation and adoption to support the advancement of accessible and inclusive education for those with special education needs.  

Highlights of LDS’s current RISE-AT offering include: 

  • A large format interactive SMART Board and SMART software from SMART Technologies used for in-person and online instruction;  
  • Read&Write by Texthelpa powerful software tool that offers a range of literacy support features to help students create and engage with content across all grade levels and subjects, allowing them to optimize their own personal learning styles to meet their full potential; 
  • Mindmeister by MeisterLabsan intuitive visual mind mapping tool that assists students with their creative thinking, self-regulation, organization and planning; 
  • BeeLine Reader by BeeLine Reader, a software system which adds colour gradients to digital text to improve reading ability and focus; 
  • Juno by FrontRowan auditory and voice command system that boosts listening, participation, confidence, and comprehension; 
  • Grammarly by Grammarly, software tools for digital writing assistance; 
  • Echo SmartPen by Livescribe, a handwriting tool that transcribes written notes to digital text and voice; 
  • C-Pen Reader by Scanning Pens, a text-to-speech scanner specially designed for individuals with dyslexia;   
  • Lexilight by Lexilife, a specially designed reading aid lamp for individuals with dyslexia; 
  • A large screen monitor and 12 Surface Pros donated by Microsoft that facilitate access to RISE-AT software tools; and  
  • Calming and meditation toolsincluding Muse by InteraXon, Focus Calm by BrainCo, calming weighted accessories from Harkla, and other manipulatives and technologyenhanced accessories that will make up our multi-sensory calming room. 

Melanie, whose daughter in Grade 3 has a diagnosed learning disability, appreciates LDS’s researchbased, technology-enhanced approach: “Coming from a research background myself, I value that LDS’s instruction and methodology is based on the latest research, and that my daughter can access learning supports including assistive technology that are at the forefront of what’s available for students with learning differences.”  

“Our company is honoured to be partnering with LDS to help students with learning differences,” says Jeffrey Kassa of MindMeister. “We are excited to see the real life impact that our creative and flexible software tools can have on the learning outcomes of children and youth with learning differences.” 

LDS is grateful to its thoughtful and generous community of supporters who through financial and in-kind donations are enabling LDS to rapidly develop and expand its assistive technology offerings for children and youth in Greater Vancouver and virtually throughout BC.  

As a charity, we serve many families who are disproportionately affected by the social and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Forbes. “With LDS RISE-AT we further our commitment to ensure that all children and youth have continuous access to research-based learning supports of the highest quality and integrity 

As a non-profit, LDS relies on donations and community support in order to sustain its programming and provide bursaries to families in financial need. Those interested in making a financial contribution to help vulnerable students access RISE-AT are encouraged to visit LDS’s Giving page: https://ldsociety.ca/giving/  

 

Media Contact:  

Rachel S. Forbes 
Executive Director, Learning Disabilities Society 
604.345.9129 (mobile) ed@ldsociety.ca 

 

Technology Company Contacts (contact details available on request): 

  • Laura James, FrontRow 
  • Jeffrey KassaMindMeister  
  • Alek Kolga, SMART Technologies  

Resources: 

About Learning Disabilities Society (LDS):  

Founded in 1970, LDS is a non-profit charity that serves children with suspected or diagnosed learning disabilities by providing customized learning support. LDS’s Research-informed Individualized Student Education (RISE) program enables students to understand their unique strengths and find success in the classroom and beyondLDS is committed to making high-quality, affordable learning support accessible to all families, regardless of circumstance.  

 

 

ARISE Newsletter October 2020

This month’s ARISE Newsletter includes an announcement of our collaboration with UBC’s Psychological Services and Counselling Training Centre (PSCTC) and other exciting news, a sneak peak of events happening in November, and useful resources.

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