Technologies being developed in Denmark and Qatar offer an exciting look into how university study could become more accessible for disabled students in the future.
Both physical and learning disabilities can be huge barriers to a university education, particularly at a time when higher education budgets are being cut in many countries.
An accessible future beckons
A special needs school in Copenhagen – the Kolen ved Nordens Plads School – has introduced a telepresence robot called ‘Beam’ that allows students who cannot physically attend school to attend remotely.
The robot itself is a video screen on wheels with a WiFi hotspot, which can be remotely navigated around the school by the student – allowing them to take part in classes, see their friends and be a part of social events at the school.
In the Middle East, a team at Qatar University is working on a range of robotics to help those with severe autism, including students. One assistive robot is called Keepon, and has been designed without a ‘face’ to be less intimidating for the student than a human might be, building trust and using this as an entry point for teaching.