MONTREAL – Video games are a popular activity for most grade 9 students, but for a class at Beurling Academy in Verdun, it is a math and science project aimed at helping people with disabilities.
The project consisted of developing a video game controller for people with visual, hearing or physical disabilities.
“The goal here was for the students to independently investigate different disabilities around the world,” said Ayesha Anwar, one of the teachers involved. “We wanted them to relate to this project, which is why we came up with a game controller… they came out and found out how different disabilities would use the controllers.”
The class was split into several groups, each creating a unique design using a basic circuit board kit from a company called Makey Makey and Play Doh Buttons which helped complete the electrical circuit.
“We were originally going to be doing almost a (Nintendo Entertainment System) style controller, but I thought it was too difficult for a person with a motor disability to use,” said student Jeremy Willey, whose group has designed a controller for someone who can only use one arm. “That’s why I designed this one-handed controller.”
Tianna Roman’s group also created a controller for someone with limited hand use.
“We made big, light-up buttons and a limited quantity, so people with non-functioning hands can navigate the controller,” she said.
Thomas Swiderski, another teacher in the class, manages the school’s social media accounts, posted some of the photos and tagged the manufacturer of the circuit board. He was surprised at the comments the class received.
“They [Makey Makey] Featured it on their corporate blog and tagged occupational therapists on Twitter with drawings made by students, where they said, “Hey, try this with a patient.” “
While the praise was greatly appreciated, the students said the most important part of the project was to find out what these projects could help those in need.
As student Leila Bourcier said, “What is most inspiring about the project is learning about it and helping people in the future and how it can influence them.