Discovering greater independence

Every day National Star students are harnessing assistive technologies to develop their independence and give them greater control over their environment.

The Ingram Discovery Rooms, based within National Star’s new residence at Ullenwood, are designed to give students hands–on experience with technology that can be used in a residential setting, preparing them for a more independent life after college.

The rooms, which comprise of a kitchen, lounge and an ensuite bedroom, are also used for assessments.

While Amazon Alexas are commonly used for playing music or adding items to shopping lists, the Ingram Discovery Rooms utilise the technology to make everyday actions such as opening the curtains, turning the lights on and off and even boiling the kettle accessible with a simple voice command.

Students can choose to relax and self–regulate their emotions by asking Alexa to turn on a projector that provides sensory lighting. Non–verbal learners are able to access the technology via an iPad.

Maizie and Dan using smart fridge
Rachel smiling outside at the Ullenwood campus

Alongside Alexa technology, a smart fridge allows users to see what’s inside without even opening the door, while giving reminders about expiry dates and even suggesting recipes to try.

‘The technology provides our learners with increased independence and a reduced reliance on others,’ said Maizie Morgan, Assistive Technology Technician.

‘They can trial the equipment and explore different ways of using the technology in a way that works for them, within a supportive environment and with specialist input on hand. For some of our young people, this is the first time they have been able to control the environment around them – the joy it brings to them is huge!’

Off–the–shelf domestic technologies are used across National Star to support students in their day–to–day activities because this technology is transferable once they leave college.

When former student Rachel, who has severe visual impairment and cerebral palsy, first joined National Star, she was dependent on others for everything from getting up in the morning to checking her emails and turning on her TV.

Our multi–disciplinary team worked with her to find the latest technology and equipment to enable her to be more in charge of her own life. By the time Rachel left college, she could answer and send emails independently using Speaking Emails, and use smart technology to control her TV, listen to music and control the lighting in her room. She also learned how to use an AI (artificial intelligence) app which describes food products, reads printed material and can even give a description of a person.

Thanks to the development of her independence and skills for life, Rachel was able to fulfil her ambition of moving away from home and into her own place.

By supporting National Star, you are enabling students to access the specialist equipment and facilities they need to grow their independence and prepare for life after college. Please donate today.