“Life is difficult. This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths.” This is the opening line of the book “The less travelled road” by Scott Peck. When I first read this back in my senior year in high school, I felt a great relief in my heart. Sometimes we forget that everyone is having their own battle.
At that point in my life, it was essential for me to embrace and remember this myself. A few months later my high school friends would each find their professional and personal way in life. I, on the other hand, was on the brink of depression because I assumed my disability-related barriers are impossible to overcome.
When I was a little baby, my parents were told that I wouldn’t be able to walk on my own. I was born with a type of muscular dystrophy which meant I wouldn’t be able to stand up and walk on my own. During my life I’ve gone from one doctor to another, I know a lot about this disease, but this is not the point here, therefore I won’t go into any further detail. I had a relatively happy childhood and for this I owe a lot to my dear parents. But as I grew older, I felt different from the rest and that caused depression. At the end of the high school, I had a big mental downgrade to the point I was assigned for a six-month long anti-depression therapy.
In 2016 quite by chance I came across this fancy Virtual Reality video https://www.jungeroemer.net/cases/tectos_testbed.html. I was impressed and moved. The technology was officially introduced a few years ago (in 2010 I think) but for me, it was the first time I had seen it. This first strong impression led me to a few weeks of persistent online research about this technology. My interest in it became intensified especially when I read about its potential application in helping people with disabilities like me. I knew that if I could help myself, it would do a world of good to my mental health, the quality of my life and then I could give a hand to other people with disabilities facing similar struggles. Then I finally decided to attend a sort of pre-university course in this field to gain a little professional expertise and be able to help afterward.
My goal is to provide other people with disabilities with the relevant information which would help them live to a great extent a barrier-free professional and personal life. I want to encourage them to learn about Virtual Reality technology and discover ways how it can help them.
How Can Virtual Reality Help Students with Disabilities?
Equality is something education must stand for. Our schools have made great progress in this aspect. Yet there is more that can be done. Students with disabilities still face a range of different problems apart from a customised infrastructure or similar. I know this from my very own experience in school.
So, the question is: Can Virtual Reality Technology play a role in tackling this problem? YES, it CAN.
On a wider scale Virtual Reality can provide students with disabilities with:
These are three branches of the same tree and they complement each other in this structure.
Students with disabilities may have specific needs due to their physical impairments. Let’s say a student has a visual impairment and in a normal class setting clear vision is essential for the student to understand the material. There are VR goggles and additional equipment that enable these students to see clearly. This brings us then to the second point.
When the student knows what is being discussed in class, he/she can engage all his/her senses on the learning process therefore he/she can participate in the discussions taking place. This is an essential element for everyone to succeed in school.
It is essential for a student with disabilities to feel part of the learning process. When his/her needs are met, he/she can participate equally.
Many classes, especially those held in laboratories, require certain body movements for an experiment to be performed. I had this problem as a high school student. I was never be able to conduct an experiment on my own because there were occasions when I was supposed to be standing on my own feet or move in a certain way which I couldn’t. So, I was only able to learn about it from observing other students. I understood the lesson but I didn’t feel part of it. I didn’t feel any sense of achievement, which is a huge barrier for students with disabilities in their future career decisions.
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At MyPlus Students’ Club we have a range of blogs related to this topic, to read further click on the relevant link below: