Self-service virtual reality for learning for people with intellectual disabilities

Disability concerned: Mental disability

Topics: Personal and health care, autonomy

Learning to react appropriately in exceptional, dangerous or complex situations is a pillar of independence for people with intellectual disabilities. Indeed, these people are often powerless and stressed when faced with situations that they do not understand. In this study, we want to understand if and how the use of virtual reality (VR) can be a way to help instructors of people with intellectual disabilities in this learning. Here are the results:
From interactions with academic experts:
● The use of VR significantly increases the interest and effectiveness of learning
● Using filmed reality (360 VR) rather than modelling (full VR) enhances the impression of reality and the effectiveness of learning
● Focusing learning on problem solving increases the effectiveness of the training compared to teaching only solutions
From interviews with trainers and observation of individuals with intellectual disabilities:
● The average user with ID (typically T21) is able to handle a simple application based on scenarios and option choices
● Teaching material is mostly ‘linear’, describing the solution rather than the resolution of problems arising during learning
● Instructors are looking for pedagogical guidance on how to conduct training in the VR medium
From research on available technologies:
● Commercial offerings lack features specific to the target audience (e.g. text2speech or colour choices), and are expensive especially due to the storage and computing capacity required
● The development of a tailor-made solution is possible at a reduced cost through the adequate use of coding platforms dedicated to 3D video games
● Proof-of-concepts have shown that a simplified approach to storage (on an institution’s cloud) and to the application (generic basic functionalities) allows for reduced maintenance and technical support

  • The interactions with the instructors allowed to understand the reality of the field on the pedagogical approach in which problem solving is well in place, but transmitted in an informal way, in the interaction between the MSPs and the individuals with intellectual disabilities
    Interactions with individuals with intellectual disabilities helped to validate the hypotheses concerning the interest and usability of a simple VR learning solution
    Interactions with academics validated the hypotheses on the interest of VR, but above all strengthened the pedagogical (how to structure the training) and behavioural (how to make the training effective and non-disruptive) aspects

    Without participating in the Innovation Booster, we would never have had the opportunity to network with the people who made the conclusions of this study possible, nor to envisage a joint follow-up to this project

Preparation of an Innosuisse project submission in collaboration with (preliminary list) Fovahm, ORIF, CHUV, HETS-FR, HEPL. Project description (preliminary):
“Development and evaluation of an accessible and open access virtual reality learning sequence modelling platform for and with people with intellectual disabilities and/or autism spectrum disorders and their carers.”

On a screen, a man holding a frying pan in a kitchen is shown in the background. In the foreground is text that says: "What should I do? Take a frying pan. Take a cooking pot."

Contact info

Association Wizit

Thierry Loo

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