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TypedTales: An inclusive e-learning platform for children with learning differences

A multilingual story tool assisting educators, parents, therapists to teach them social and emotional learning by visual narrative.

Photo of Saloni Mhapsekar
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  • Student

Tell us about your idea

The problem :

COVID-19, a pandemic which mandates social distancing and quarantine, has increased complexities for families of children with learning differences (LD). It raises challenges in delivering care to them. People with LD are generally dependent on people around them due to the nature of their disability. Their chances to contact an infected person is higher as they are in close proximity to family members, caretakers, or other people. This makes social distancing an impossible reality.

At school they get individualised attention from specially trained educators for teaching LD children, in the time of this pandemic parents can't turn into special educators overnight. The problem now lies assisting parents to help them teach their children how to keep them safe and prepare them for the new world as the lockdown dissolves along with taking care of their social and emotional needs.

Who benefits from the innovation?

Children with LD are our target audience. This is a huge spectrum in which the ability and severity of symptoms vary considerably. Generally, their mental age differs from their chronological age, due to complex neurodevelopmental disorders. Hence, we chose to stick to an age group depending upon their mental age, i.e 3 to 10 years. This helped us make this platform more inclusive.

Design process:

We started our journey by planning a process. In no time we realised that design evolves and discovery happens throughout the design process. Hence, opening ourselves to new ideas and questioning each one of them was really important for us to move ahead. We followed a design process to reach our end goal, but with the freedom to bend it according to our need.

Discovery Phase--> Frame Reframe--> Ideate--> Design develop--> Iterate

We started with understanding what Autism and LD. For an authentic research we partnered with Special Olympics Bharat.

Our Design Challenge:

How might we deploy e-learning methods to assist special educators, parents and children with intellectual disabilities to teach them social and emotional learning skills through visual narrative.

The Innovation :

TypedTales is a self directed virtual inclusive website. It provides free social and emotional education to children worldwide. The platform is built by designing for one i.e Autism Spectrum disorder and making it accessible for all. It consists of multilingual customisable stories with an illustrated dictionary of everyday objects and situations, to give educators, therapists, parents and siblings the freedom to type tales catering to their own likes and needs.

What kind of impact it will have:

It is built over the theory of transition time beneficial for children with autism and other LD. Transition helps these kids move successfully from one activity to another. It is applicable for neurotypicals too; for example, you plan a vacation to Italy. Before packing you will make sure to be aware of the climatic conditions of the country or explore on google the places you need to visit when you reach there. All this is the process of preparing ourselves for the ‘transition’ to familiarise ourselves for what might come.

With TypedTales, we are trying to help people with learning differences and their families to deal with the new lifestyles attributed to COVID-19 pandemic. In these challenging times, we are aiming at compiling resources to assist them to cope up with these new changes. Since, every LD child is different, they perceive everything at their own pace and perspective. Our broader goal is to cater to these children and make education more customisable and according to the need of each child.

How our idea could reach a significant number of end-users?

We plan to expand our reach by making the platform accessible for all. By adding features like:

01. Mentor connect - Schedule meetings with mentors, therapists and special educators for remote learning and assistance.

02. Customise stories- Teaching is not limited to skilled people but we believe in collaborating with everyone around the child i.e give chance to everyone to write the story in their own way.

03. For children with no internet access or lack of devices in the institution, we have a feature to download video or print the stories as flashcards.

How does it benefit young people beyond COVID-19?

There are several age-based strategies which could be used for this. But whatever you choose, the goal has to be teaching them social and emotional learning preparing for the consequences they will face as an adult. The reason we focused on learning differences is because, we hope to build a system by solving for one and extending to many!

What part(s) of the pre-COVID school system do you wish to leave in the past? Why?

01.Teaching is not just about academics but rather should also focus on building social and emotional competencies. 02. The education system in India is rigid, generalised and lacks deeper self reflection. Learning should be flexible, play based and experimental. Just like adding a customisation feature on a platform it made us realise every child is unique and has a different story to relate to. 03. Teaching is not just limited for skilled teachers but rather a collaborative effort. We learn by looking at things around us, thus even parents, siblings along with therapist and counselors has equal contribution in shaping child's future

Tell us a little bit about yourself and what inspired you to share this idea.

We are a team of 3 creative creeds, with a heart of an explorer. Inclusion and accessibility design have been a constant part of our interest. We believe in ‘Including the excluded’. The workforce in India is becoming multicultural and diverse everyday and so are the changes we adapt to. But the education system is still not flexible. With quick decisions taken during the pandemic, education and learning remains untouched.  All of this is possible only if we take an active interest in building technologies and capacities to make education truly inclusive and universal.

What region are you located in?

  • South-eastern Asia

Where are you located?

We come from a country as diverse as India and also belong to three different states, cultures and backgrounds; Mumbai, Delhi and Bhopal respectively.

Attachments (1)

Typedtales final.pdf

Final research document


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