A new £6.2 million residential building equipped with the latest technology is set to open its doors at National Star College, offering students with disabilities a unique opportunity to harness the power of cutting-edge AI technology. This revolutionary “smart house” is poised to redefine the educational landscape for young individuals with diverse disabilities, providing them with a safe and nurturing environment to explore and adapt to AI advancements.
A Smart House for Independence
Situated in Ullenwood near Cheltenham, the National Star College is renowned for its dedication to providing education and therapy to young people with a range of disabilities. The new ‘Building a Brighter Future’ residence, a single-story structure with 13 bedrooms, is not just an ordinary accommodation but a technological haven. Each bedroom is equipped with overhead tracking hoists and an array of AI features, including voice-activated appliances like a fridge.
The primary goal of this state-of-the-art facility is to empower students to become masters of their own technological destinies. By giving them the opportunity to customize technology to their specific needs, National Star College aims to prepare them for a more independent life after college, equipped with the skills and familiarity with technology that can significantly enhance their quality of life.
Personalized Technology Solutions
Maizie Morgan, an assistive technology technician at National Star College, underlined the significance of this initiative. “We’re trying to give the students the opportunity to explore this technology in a safe environment at college,” she explained. “The idea is that prospective and current students are able to use this technology, see what’s out there in the world, and eventually, hopefully, implement it into their own rooms and then transition from college.”
Simon Welch, the college’s Principal, stressed that the technology has been customized to cater to the unique needs of each student. “We understand, in terms of the young people and their disability, and what’s really the priority for them. The technology isn’t necessarily hugely innovative, but the way in which we work with the individual is,” he said.
Empowering Communication and Independence
One of the inspiring stories from National Star College is that of Jasper Tomlinson, a student who had the opportunity to test the software before the official opening. Though he is non-verbal, Jasper can send commands to smart devices using his eyes to control his electronic communicator. This innovative approach allows students like Jasper to control various devices and appliances in their rooms with a single action word.
“I think that it’s great because it helps me gain confidence for the time I leave college,” Jasper expressed. His words underline the profound impact that this technology has on preparing students for life beyond the college’s supportive environment.
This forward-thinking approach, like scanning QR codes, ensures that students with disabilities have access to the tools and resources they need to thrive in a technology-driven world, laying the foundation for a brighter and more independent future.
Enhancing Lives Through Technology
Peter Horne, National Star’s Deputy Chief Executive, emphasized the significant impact of this new accommodation on the lives of young people with complex physical and learning disabilities. He stated, “This new accommodation will improve the lives of young people with complex physical and learning disabilities and create stimulating spaces to live, learn, and relax in.”
The integration of AI technology at National Star College not only enhances the independence and confidence of students but also represents a broader shift towards inclusivity and innovation in the field of education. This forward-thinking approach ensures that students with disabilities have access to the tools and resources they need to thrive in a technology-driven world, laying the foundation for a brighter and more independent future.