Students share how technology transforms their lives

Four National Star students are set to share how technology has helped transform their lives for the better when they take to the main stage of BETT UK, the premier exhibition and conference in the education technology sector.

By Matt Walsh · 09/01/2024

Maizie and Dan using smart fridge

Jaspar, Dan, Jack and Aidan will each explain how they are achieving their potential thanks to the use of technology when they speak in front of an audience of hundreds of people at the ExCel London on 26 January.

They will talk about some of the challenges faced by young people with disabilities, highlighting the barriers to education, social inclusion, and independence. The students will then describe how, by using innovative technologies, such as augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) devices and adaptive software, the lives of young people with disabilities can be transformed.

The students have drafted their own speeches, and by drawing upon their own personal anecdotes, will describe how they are able to become more independent and lead active lives.

Impact of technology

‘Technology is power,’ says Jaspar. ‘My eyes, thanks to the technology, have super powers. I can move independently driving my chair, control my music, the lighting in my room, the curtains, my computer. And flirt, well doesn’t everyone?! I am 20 years old after all,’ he added.

Jack, a proud Brummie, is a man with a mission to find his own voice. He has athetoid cerebral palsy and has never had his own voice. He is working with National Star’s Speech and Language Therapy team to get a regional Birmingham accent programmed into his own communication device.

‘The impact of technology on my life has been massive. It enables me to listen to my music and music is important to me because of my dancing. Music also helps me relax,’ said Jack.

‘Without technology I would have never been able to ask my fiancé Bethan out on a date. I could never have asked her to marry me. Now my biggest wish is to have my own voice so that I when I give my wedding speech, I sound like me,’ he added.

Aidan is passionate about Esports and has praised his National Star team for the efforts they have made to embrace technology to help him settle into college.

Life changing technology

And Dan, who has his own blog on Facebook ‘Disability Matters with Dan’ will be talking to the audience about how the Mollii suit has changed his life.

The Mollii suit is a full body garment worn every other day which works to switch off muscles that are overactive while stimulating ones which are underactive.

There were sustained improvements seen in Dan’s lower limbs when he started to use the Mollii suit, which has had a direct impact on his walking and tolerance for standing.

‘By using the Mollii suit I have less pain in my legs. I have even been able to reduce the amount of medication I take to control the pain. That means I have had less side effects and I don’t have as much fatigue. Now I can make the most of college life,’ said Dan.

‘I also have better head control and that’s important to me because it is how I access all sorts of technology to be independent. I can now access Zoom in seconds! Zoom is a crucial part of my life since I started at National Star and moved away from home. It enables me to communicate with others, even attending dance classes! It allows me to stay connected with family and friends,’ he added.

By the end of the quartet’s presentation the audience will gain a profound appreciation for the resilience and tenacity of young people with disabilities at National Star.

Chief Operating Officer/Principal of National Star Simon Welch said: ‘What a fantastic opportunity for National Star students to showcase their effective use of technology.

‘As a leading specialist college we have a team of dedicated professionals who are constantly exploring ways of introducing new technologies to enhance the lives of students with disabilities. Our aim is to ensure that students are fully equipped for life after college,’ added Simon.