Chantilly, Virginia – A group of students in Loudoun County are developing technology for their peers with special needs, so FOX 5’s Katie Barlow visited J. Michael Lunsford Middle School in Chantilly, VA to test out some of their new technology!
Alana Amani teaches gifted education in schools. She started the program five weeks ago, challenging students to help make life easier and more fun for their peers with special needs.
“I love seeing it’s student-driven. I say I’m not a teacher, I’m a facilitator. I just observe and learn a lot from my kids,” Amani told FOX 5.
Amani says her goal is to bring people together, something that in recent years can no longer be taken for granted. Her colleagues say she succeeded.
“Seeing that the fear of being different goes away and suddenly there’s no difference. They’re the same age. It’s really exciting for me because it’s something I’ve been working on for 20 years,” says the school’s Assistive technology expert Joyce says Fox 5.
As for creation, there’s plenty to check out, including revamped paintbrushes, an attachable desk for students in wheelchairs, and a game adaptation designed to be more inclusive. They include a Twister version with different textures, and a modified version of the cornhole.
One group even made a new keyboard.
“They said some kids had a hard time remembering their passwords,” one student said. “We made a keyboard that associates letters with symbols so that children who have trouble remembering letters can use symbols.”
One student interviewed by FOX 5 said the program made them proud.
“It makes me proud to make something that other people can use and that they find interesting,” the student said.
Their teachers are proud, too, and plan to use the technology immediately.
“In my role, I’ve been tweaking things to make sports equipment more accessible to my students based on their specific disabilities, so I jumped at it,” Katie, an adaptive PE teacher, told FOX 5. “I hope everything is right now!”
Watch the video above to learn more about some creative creations.