Episode 31 · 2 months ago

Mouth-Off Episode 23: Eye + Matter Heritage Lottery Project


On this episode of Mouth-Off we are discussing EYE + MATTER, a Heritage Lottery Funded project that happened between February 2020 – February 2022. The project was conceived by TY GWYN SPECIAL SCHOOL in Cardiff in partnership with FORGET-ME-NOT-PRODUCTIONS. It provided multiple opportunities for meaningful assistive technology experiences - interwoven with the arts to enable individuals with the most complex needs to share their own history.

This project had 13 key stakeholders: Ty Gwyn School, Maes Ebbw School, Trinity Fields School, Park Lane School, Ysgol Hen Felin, RCT Learning Curve (Gadlys Day Centre), Craig-y-Parc School, Jac Richards, Hayder Ali, Ashish Isaac, and Forget-Me-Not-Productions.

In this episode we will distilling the essence of EYE + MATTER, discussing how we utilised assistive technology and the arts as effective tools for learning about the heritage of this marginalised group. Participants seamlessly integrated their own stories and skills, with the history of assistive technology and the historic Craig-Y-Parc School. The overall ethos of the project promoted local heritage, while celebrating the history of a community that has remained in the margins.

Interviewees taking part in the podcast are Mel Saddler, Clare Evans-Lees, Lianne Stallard, Jac Richards, Brad Brunt, Rhys Evans, and Dr Carole Thornett.


Intro Music - music by Clary Saddler

Outro Music - music by Clary Saddler

Welcome to mouth off, a podcast brought to you by forget me not productions. My name is clary Sadler and on today's episode I'm going to be talking about the IPLUS matter project, which is a heritage lottery funded project conceived by Ti Gwin, special school in carded and inclusive arts organization, forget me not productions. I plus matter provided multiple opportunities for meaningful assistive technology experiences. These were interwoven with the arts and music was used as a motivator to enable individuals with the most complex physical and cognitive disabilities to share their own history and celebrate their independent achievements. The project was launched in February two thousand and twenty and was due to conclude in July of that year. We were going to have a training event called IPLUS Matter Festival, and it was going to involve professionals... field of special education and social and health sectors. It was also going to be a celebration of the achievements of all involved. The participants would use a range of assistive technology, such as I gays, switches and touch monitors in order to help them achieve an independently take part in music and arts sells. Due to Covid nineteen, the project was postponed and we had to adapt the sharing event and the training event to fit a virtual platform. Pupils at five local special schools, adults from a local day center and three individuals all the complex needs took part in assistive technology and inclusive art sessions called music can. Music can is a protocol developed by forget me not production and it uses music primarily as a motivator to engage individuals with the most complex needs in assisted... Te grins school with a project lead, and other partners included my said with special school, Trinity Field Special School, Park Lane Special School, Gadless Day Center and three private clients that had all worked with forgetmen not productions in the past. Most of the facetoface music can sessions had resumed by the end of two thousand and twenty one, but sadly, due to ongoing covid nineteen restrictions, Trinity Field Special School had to pull out. Luckily, a skull Hen Vlin special school stepped in and had the remaining sessions, enabling us to wrap up the project. So what exactly do we mean by assistive technology well, for the purpose of this project, we're using the term assisted technology to include any specialist technology that enables access to a computer, so things such... switches, touch monitors, ie gaze, which is a computer that is operated by eye movements, and these are linked to specialist software for teaching cause and effect, choice making and beyond, augmentative and alternative communication, or a AC specialist controls for wheelchair driving and access to toys and play. So when I go first first became commercially available, it was really mostly suited for four people who are already at a level of using AAC and perhaps using a AC with switches, switches being very effective, but slow, slow and laborious. Another focus of iplus matter has been to provide staff members with the opportunities to be trained in the implementation of assisted technology systems for those with the most complex disabilities. Why do you think projects such as this I class matter, funded... the Heritage Lottery Fund, are so important for the individuals that have been taken part from your school? Is the technology? Like we did have chest to the ADS, because we fall projects in one ideas. So we're trying to re establish all the of also, we want to start saving to see what opportunities who use the ideas. It's wonderful project because you can see how should children respond into it and how much you really need that school. What have been the main benefits that you've seen from the individuals that have taken part in the project? To see technology start, get to see what they capable...

...of by using that technology, which gives us in the test that to move forward with the stiles and those skills. People's get to be able to be part of my pain seeking on and I know the way people have sponded. They focus and they really enjoyed it and I think use it is such a Wer colaps as well people's anyway. So it's just a wonderful way for them to be popus them to ready to get into the niche, and they are absolutely what are the main barriers for these individuals achieving independently within a school or daycare setting? The challenge is being more like consistency. Possibly need more, more technology, things that coming for all the children to one of the main aims of the project is in to empower individuals identified as experience in profound and...

...multiple learning disabilities or individuals that have complex physical disabilities these individuals use assistive technology to experience independent achievement and throughout the project we use the music can framework to motivate engagement with this technology, changing and shifting the focus from disability to ability. I started making music with forgetting the productions and change my life. Music Transform. We hope to raise awareness also of the historical development of assisted technologies and the potential impact for independent learning via new technologies and new techniques. We speak to Mel saddler about the history of assisted technology. But of course, by far the biggest development for assist of technology, particularly for those individuals with...

...the with the greatest cognitive impairments, has been a development of IAS. So I guys work really well off that group of people straightaway. But it took some time for, I guess, to be suited for software to come out and be made available for people with more significant intellectual impairments as well as their physical disability. But once software such as look to learn and sensory I effects and some you know, some of the inclusive technolology software as became available for I gays users, it's really opened up a whole new world for that group of learners, which is just amazing. And you see people making choices using eye gays, who I would have considered it being very difficult to teach them to make choices using switches, because using switches to make choices as a much higher cognitive load. That makes sense. Yet they can do it with with...

...eyegays. We also talk to assistive Technology Guru, Carol Thornets. Dr Carol Thornett has been involved in the field of assisted technology since one thousand nine hundred and eighty six. She was a pioneer in exploring the use of assisted technology with individuals experience in profound and multiple learning disabilities. In fact, it was carol that developed the first mobility platform, which was originally part of the SPASTIC Society Research Project and had the aim of enabling children with cerebral palsy to explore mobility when their peers were able to get those would learned difficulties. It was just a physical excited but I think it's quite so I'm s u because that's...

...always such a problem. If they went to a wheelchair service in what's eating, what they use? So this was at control what they would do. So the historic Kraiger Park School has also been our heritage partner throughout the iplus matter sessions. Craiger Park House is a country house in Penter Cardiff. It was built in nineteen fourteen for a colliery owner named Thomas Evans. Evans died in nineteen forty three and Craiger Park then came into the possession of the National Coal Board before being sold in one thousand nineteen and fifty four to the spastic society. They opened a residential school site in one thousand nineteen fifty five and...

...the house still operates as a residential care facility today. It is also a special school for young adults with learning disabilities, which is operated by salutem healthcare school. Over again, it's good that for people with disabilities. He searched the school you're going to work in and the students you're going to work with, and then it's just the case of getting to know your colleague and then getting to know you, and that should make your job hopefully a lot easier. That was one of the first things. People you should look up say that's I'm probably a student, but that doesn't happen anymore because I'm older and I grow beards and stuff like that. So that does not happen anymore. Well, my powered wheelchair, it can burn. The batteries last longer,...

...which means I can stay out for longer, I can source realize for longer and being work for longer. And secondly, my power chair then can also so, as you can see, the chair, the chair I'm sitting in, his absolutely raising, which then I'll also helps me in my job professionally, when I'm working with students with standing frames. One in standing frame. Sorry, and also helps me socially when there is no seating available for other people, I can then raise myself up to the level at the person is standing to and then when I'm when I'm done, you just go back down. So it's basically far different out how I used to be. There's no combustion because now I can turn lights on you reading my voice, where there... when I was younger, I wasn't able well, I wasn't able to re I wasn't able to really reach the lights bridges due to them being on a different level. What would you say? You're most proud of something you've achieved, maybe through your use of technology that's helped you achieve that thing. Could be related to school, or could games games and not control controls. So you're quite the expert it comes to games and looking control yes, I need help trying out accessible is to us. I need help accessing music techn recording studios and what were doing through us. Really, I guess, remotely... the House when I started making music, with forgetting the productions and changed my life. Music transformed me. I feel like I'm finally using my brain properly. Join you next time when I interview Ivan Kinicky if on is a programmer and curator specializing in black independent film.

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