Tech-Infused Residential Facility for Disable Students to Open

A state-of-the-art £6.2 million residential building equipped with the latest technology is due to be unveiled at a college for students with disabilities.

This accommodation, catering specifically to students with disabilities, at National Star College will function as a “smart house” and incorporate voice-activated technology, empowering students to personalise artificial intelligence (AI) to meet their individual requirements, the BBC reports.

A Glimpse into the ‘Brighter Future’ Facility

This innovative accommodation is set to be opened later by prominent disability advocates Jack Thorne and Rachel Mason.

Situated in Ullenwood, near Cheltenham, the college offers educational and therapeutic services to young individuals with diverse disabilities. The introduction of advanced technology within this facility aims to enhance their autonomy and equip them with the skills they need for life beyond college.

The ‘Building a Brighter Future’ structure, designed as a single-story building, comprises 13 bedrooms, each thoughtfully equipped with overhead tracking hoists and an array of cutting-edge AI features, including a voice-activated fridge.

“We’re trying to give the students the opportunity to explore this technology in a safe environment at college,” said Maizie Morgan, assistive technology technician at National Star College.

“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,” she added.

The Promise of Personalised Technology

According to Principal Simon Welch, the technology has been customised to be accessible and specifically address 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 added.

Jaspar Tomlinson, a non-verbal student, was given the opportunity to test out the software ahead of the opening.

He successfully sent commands to the smart devices by using his eyes to operate his electronic communicator. As a result, the devices and appliances in the rooms can be controlled effortlessly with just a single action word.

“I think that it’s great because it helps me gain confidence for the time I leave college,” said Peter Horne, National Star deputy chief executive.

“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.”