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AcclimateVR 

Virtual Reality Teaching Tools for Special Education

 

 

Our Vision and Mission

We are developing a collection of virtual reality-based learning modules designed specifically for children and adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and other developmental disabilities. Our VR teaching tools are designed to help children and teens on the spectrum develop independent living skills, practice social skills, build safety awareness, and navigate challenging community locations.  

With AcclimateVR, learners can experience real-world situations and challenges in a safe environment and learn functional life skills at their own pace. Our mission is to help students with learning differences acquire skills to help them increase independence at home, school, and within their communities. 


Be there, without going anywhere

A trip to the grocery store, a public restroom, getting a haircut, going to the airport, ordering food from a restaurant, or taking public transportation — for children and adolescents with autism, new places and unfamiliar situations can be incredibly overwhelming and anxiety-inducing.

Our immersive 360º VR image and video experiences allow learners to take virtual trips to real-world community places. Situation-based lessons guide learners through everyday interactions and scenarios, teaching them coping mechanisms in a controlled environment. With AcclimateVR, students have the opportunity to repeatedly “live” or rehearse real-life situations as many times as needed, in preparation for the real thing. 


Designed by therapeutic professionals and special educators

We are using a collaborative design process to develop our initial prototypes, relying on the expertise of occupational therapists, special educators, social workers, parents, researchers, and students with ASD.

As a result of this participatory design approach, AcclimateVR experiences are based on well proven educational practices, curriculum, and therapeutic protocols that are frequently implemented in specialized schools, mainstream schools, and learning disability centers, including:

  • Social Stories
  • Community-Based Instruction
  • Video-Based Modeling

We are currently partnering with specialized schools to pilot several of our AcclimateVR prototypes focused on social skills, safety, community outings, and job skills. Through our pilot studies, the goal is to measure whether students with ASD are able to generalize or transfer the skills learned in the virtual environment to the real world.

 

How It Works

This clip below shows real-time footage of a student on the autism spectrum using one of the initial AcclimateVR prototypes. This grocery store experience is part of our "Community Outings" learning module, and targets the skills of waiting in line, interacting socially with the cashier, and paying. What you see is the student's view of the VR environment, and what you hear are his unprompted reactions when the cashier speaks to him.

 

 

Features

 

Mobile VR

All that is required for students to experience AcclimateVR is a smartphone and a simple cardboard VR viewer. Our goal is to make our product affordable, accessible, and easy for educators to implement and scale. 


Real people, real places

AcclimateVR experiences are intended to prepare learners for the conditions they will encounter in real life, which is why we use 360-degree VR videos and images, complete with real people and environmental sounds, rather than computer-generated simulations or avatars. 


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Observe VR experience on a separate device

When a student participates in a VR experience, the therapist or teacher has the ability to observe the student's experience mirrored on a separate device's screen. This feature allows educators to track whether students are meeting learning objectives for targeted skills and provide feedback to students in real time. 


 "How much money will you give the cashier?"

Embedded assessments with real-time feedback

Unlike traditional video-based modeling (often used as a teaching tool for students with special needs), AcclimateVR experiences give users the opportunity to actively participate in tasks within the 360º video scene. Embedded assessments are built into each VR experience to provide opportunities for practice and to check students’ understanding of the targeted skills.