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.  

 

 

Press Release: Children With Learning Disabilities Can Learn At Home During the COVID-19 Pandemic Thanks to a New Online Platform 

Press Release: Children With Learning Disabilities Can Learn At Home During the COVID-19 Pandemic Thanks to a New Online Platform 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

The Learning Disabilities Society’s RISE at Home supports vulnerable students 

Vancouver, B.C., March 25, 2020 ─ Today, the Learning Disabilities Society (LDS)—in the face of COVID-19 related school closures and physical distancing—announced the launch of RISE at Home, a new, innovative online learning platform providing students with learning disabilities one-to-one at-home instruction. This tool will be available beginning March 30th, when students were set to return to the classroom following Spring Break. LDS is a local non-profit charity which provides programming to students with suspected or diagnosed learning disabilities, such as dyslexia, dyscalculia, auditory processing disorders and others. 

“Consistent learning support is especially critical for students with learning disabilities,” said Rachel Forbes, Executive Director, Learning Disabilities Society. “By designing a system that combines online learning with personalized instruction, we can provide some of the much-needed engagement and continuity that not only curtails potential regression through a break from school, but positively impacts learning.” 

LDS’s RISE at Home (Research-informed Individualized Student Education) sessions support vulnerable learners by utilizing dynamic and interactive software that enables LDS instructors to customize lessons based on the needs of students, just as they would during in-person sessions. The new format of the LDS RISE at Home program makes it available to students learning from home throughout Greater Vancouver. 

In keeping with its mandate of ensuring that high-quality learning support is available to all students, regardless of circumstance, LDS offers bursaries to families in need. The pricing structure is based on a sliding scale model to make it accessible to all who need it. 

Responding to the needs of its community at this critical time, LDS is providing additional services through RISE at Home including: 

  • Access to secure specialized educational software with interactive tools and a dynamic interface at no extra cost
  • Increased instructional hours, Monday through Saturday 9am to 7pm
  • An online library to support families in effective home learning, including videos, technology support and webinars (e.g. Walk a MileInMy Shoes on April 1 and Disability Tax Credit on April 23 http://ldsociety.ca/event/). 

Eva Cipera, whose daughter in grade 7 has a diagnosed learning disability, has already been using the RISE at Home program. She was granted early access during the program’s trial phase. “The system that LDS has set up is a rich, dynamic platform. It is great to see the potential to integrate all sorts of media, templates and resources that can enhance the online lesson,” she says. “My daughter found it very intuitive to use.” 

“Our team of instructors and staff are very pleased to offer ongoing individualized educational support to our community, helping to provide resources and structure at a time when families are feeling multiple pressures,” said Forbes. “RISE at Home is one more way LDS is diversifying its services to ensure we are empowering all students with learning challenges. We are now able to take these technological tools and apply them to our RISE & Tell and RISE & Solve Summer Camps to ensure that programming continues regardless of our ability to meet in groups come July.” 

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 online services platform and offer RISE at Home to children and youth in Greater Vancouver. 

As a non-profit, LDS relies on donations and community support in order to sustain its programming and provide bursaries to families in need during this challenging time. Those interested in making a financial contribution to help vulnerable students access RISE at Home are encouraged to visit LDS’s Giving page: http://ldsociety.ca/giving-2/. LDS is doing its best to ensure that all families are supported during this time; they encourage families to visit their website for learning resources or if they don’t have access to the internet to call LDS offices for support. 

– 30 – 

Media Contact: 

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

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. The organization is committed to making high-quality, affordable learning support accessible to all students, regardless of circumstance. 

LDS RISE at HOME in the News

Click the links below to see the latest press coverage.

Global News – March 27, 2020

CTV News  – March 29, 2020

TriCity News – March 29, 2020

CKNW with Simi Sara – March 30, 2020

The Province – April 1, 2020

 

 

COVID-19: LDS’s proactive measures and updates

COVID-19: LDS’s proactive measures and updates

Dear LDS community members,

This space will be updated as proactive measures and policy or practice changes are made by LDS in response to the evolving COVID-19 situation. Last update: March 17, 2020

What is LDS doing?

We would like to assure you that LDS staff are monitoring the COVID-19 situation on an ongoing basis. We are keeping abreast of measures being taken by health authorities, local schools and others, and are aware of information shared by various public health and government authorities.

As of March 16, all staff are working remotely.

We are prioritizing the set up of remote online software to ensure that our instruction can continue following spring break. We will be updating our instructors and our families as soon as possible to confirm timing, technology options and programming that will be offered online starting approximately March 30th.

We have and will continue to increase the thoroughness of cleaning at our facilities, including regular disinfection of surfaces, door handles, table tops. For the time being no work or instruction is happening at our Learning Centres.

To ensure as much safety as possible, LDS has temporarily (until April 30) amended our cancellation policy. Families may now cancel sessions due to sickness without being charged. We will update this policy if/as necessary. We have also urged parents to report any signs of illness right away and cancel their session.

We have asked our instructors and staff to report any of their own symptoms immediately to us, and to alert us of any suspected symptoms in students, parents, other staff or anyone interacting with the LDS community.

What can you do?

In line with guidance from the government, please stay home as much as possible, including not attending school or work places.

If you feel unwell, please notify LDS immediately and do not go into schools or LDS offices. If you have come into contact with any known or suspected cases of COVID-19 locally or internationally within the past 14+ days, please alert us immediately and do not go into LDS offices or any schools.

Since respiratory viruses, such as the one that causes COVID-19, are spread through contact, change how you greet one another. Instead of a handshake, a kiss or a hug, a friendly wave is less likely to expose you to respiratory viruses.

Practice frequent hand hygiene and coughing and sneezing etiquette. Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces, such as toys, phones and door handles.

These are the most important ways that you can protect yourself and your family from respiratory illness, including COVID-19.

Support our families

If you are able to give, your support now will mean that we are better able to move all of our instruction online to ensure continuity of service and support to all of our families during this time when we need each other’s help the most.

Please consider donating or becoming a monthly supporter today. Charitable receipts are issued through CanadaHelps.

Resources:

We encourage you to consult information and resources from reputable sources. Some of our suggestions include:

Advice by the Canadian government on COVID-19 as well as information on symptoms and prevention measures can be found here https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/coronavirus-disease-covid-19.html

Q&A for Kids from the BC CDC: http://www.bccdc.ca/Health-Info-Site/Documents/COVID19%20QA%20for%20kids%20Feb%202020.pdf

BC CDC information: http://www.bccdc.ca/health-info/diseases-conditions/coronavirus-(novel)#Community–resources

If you have any concerns or questions, please do not hesitate to contact us. INFO@LDSOCIETY.CA or 604.873.8139

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