Loudoun County students create technology for kids with special needs

A group of students in Loudoun County are building technology for their peers with special needs, so FOX 5’s Katie Barlow visited J. Michael Lunsford Middle School in Chantilly, Virginia to test out some of their new tech!

Alana Amani teaches gifted education at the school. She started the project five weeks ago, challenging students to help make life a little easier and more fun for their peers with special needs.

“I love to see that it’s student-driven. I say I’m not a teacher, I’m a facilitator. I just watch and learn a lot from my kids,” Amani tells FOX 5.

Amani says her goal was to bring people together, something which is not to be taken for granted after recent years. Her colleagues say she succeeded.

“Seeing that fear of being different melt, and there’s suddenly no difference. They’re peers. It’s really emotional for me because it’s something I’ve been working on for 20 years,” Joyce, an assistive technology specialist at the school, tells FOX 5.

As for the creations, there were lots to check including, modified paintbrushes, attachable desks for students in a wheelchair, and adapted games meant to be more inclusive. They included a version of Twister with different textures, and a modified version of cornhole.

One group even made a new keyboard. 

“They said it was hard to for some kids to remember their passwords,” said one student. “We made a keyboard that associates the letters with symbols so kids that can’t easily remember the letters can with symbols.”

A student FOX 5 spoke with, said the project brought them pride.

“It makes me proud to make something other people can use and they find it fun,” the student said.

Their teachers are proud too, and plan on using the tech right away.

“I adapt things all the time in my role to make PE equipment more accessible for my students based on their specific disabilities, so i jumped at it,” Katie, an adaptive PE teacher, told FOX 5. “I want all of it right now!”

Check out the video above to learn more about some of the inventive creations.

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