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Reach & Match Inclusive Education Kit empowering children with disabilities

Reach & Match promotes inclusive education for children with disabilities through activities and games in any simple learning setting.

Photo of Mandy Lau

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What problem does your innovation solve?

Children with disabilities have bigger challenges in accessing basic education during an emergency situation, i.e. blind children do not have access to Braille literacy. Children with disabilities and girls are easily isolated and ignored, not able to interact and learn with their peers in mainstream education. Teachers do not have right tools and resources to assist children with disabilities in learning and they often have little or no training in early intervention or inclusive education

Explain your innovation.

Reach & Match was developed from team leader Mandy's master's research for children with sensory impairment and multiple needs to develop braille & print early literacy and social skills through tactile strategies and play-based activities. The project has included the research in braille literacy, early intervention & inclusion in education, and developed with a range of educators and specialists using the user-centric methodologies and co-design approaches. The project consists of two parts: a mechanical device Reach & Match® Learning Kit and Reach & Match® Inclusive Learning Program. The kit consists of 4 large double-sided sensory play mats, 26 braille & print alphabet double-sided sensory tiles containing 4 sounds, a cushion, and a portable bag. The program includes 30+ activities and games based on 7 learning outcomes: Braille & Print Literacy, Cognitive Skills, Sensory Integration, Sense of Satisfaction, Language Enrichment, Body Movement and Social Interaction.  The double-side sensory play provides distinctive and fun ways for individual learning and group play. One or several Reach & Matchs can be used alone or packaged as part of an emergency school kits, the mats are expandable to accommodate a bigger group of children, the activities designed to encourage participation for all children including with and without disabilities or injuries, boys and girls in the mainstream learning settings. It also provides therapeutic support for traumatised children

Who benefits?

Children with multiple disabilities including blindness and visually impaired, intellectual and developmental disabilities, autism and limited fine motor skills/mobility. Reach & Match encourages social interaction, traumatised or injured children can also benefit from simple activities such as matching and sorting colors, shapes and pattern, learning alphabet letters etc. Children without disabilities: learn about mutual understanding and respect. Girls with and without disabilities: this is a friendly and gender inclusive toolkit joining all children to learn and play together in a fun way. Teachers, carers, and parents: they will be trained to deliver the inclusive learning program effectively, which will help them learn inclusive ideas for joining children with and without special needs in classes and community. Age: 3-12 years old preschool to primary school. Reach & Match has a great potential to scale through reaching local communities, basic classrooms and families.

How is your innovation unique?

Reach & Match is well-received and achieved awards including Good Design Award (Social Innovation), Red Dot Award (Education), James Dyson Award (Australian Winner) and Monash University Vice-Chancellor Social Inclusion Award. It is a significant improvement on existing products and its research driven by the specific needs of children with disabilities. It’s innovation include: 1. Encourage early Braille & print literacy 2. Embrace Inclusion: enables children with diverse needs to learn equally and teaches mutual respect and understanding and raises awareness of different forms of languages. 3. The Inclusive Learning Program helps children to develop essential social and communication skills through activities and games 4. Early Positive Emotional Development brings dignity, joy, support for disabled children 5. Self-empowerment: well-designed activities are the first step for alternative functional skills of independence hence to achieve their full potential

What are some of your unanswered questions about the idea?

The training and delivery models will be very important and need to carefully examined in order to ensure its quality. There are several methods to ensure the Education Kits and Inclusive Learning Program are best utilised, such as Reach & Match team provides direct trainings for partners and local communities, including research presentation which helps the local communities to understand inclusion in education, hands-on demonstration and teaching, video training content, on-site consultation and Skype conferencing. The Inclusive Learning program is available to modify and improve in order to fit in various of emergency contexts for their local culture and language.

Tell us more about you.

Reach & Match empowers children with all abilities by developing inclusive educational programs and products, our vision is to transform education and amplify inclusion through research & development, technology and collaboration. Team leader Mandy is social entrepreneur with engineering and design background, she collaborates with education leaders to implement the Reach & Match in Australia and internationally. We look for collaborators to deliver this innovative tool for emergency contexts.

What is the primary type of emergency setting where your innovation would operate?

  • Natural disaster
  • Armed conflict
  • Prolonged displacement
  • Extreme drought
  • Other (please specify in next question)

Emergency Setting - Elaborate

Reach & Match is easily implemented to multiple emergency situations and geographic contexts. It is portable and can easily be set up in a tent, shelter or mobile classrooms. It requires absolutely no electricity or supplies beyond the initial kit. It is colourful and playful so it can help cheer up traumatised children.

Where will your innovation be implemented?

Reach & Match can be applied to different emergency contexts, the portable design is easily storied and transported. It is durable and easy to clean, which is good for field use. The activities are favourable for all young children including those injured in an emergency. Reach & Match is adopted by organisations and schools in Australia and Europe for non-emergency contexts, also I will work with Save the Children to pilot the kit in Papua New Guinea and Solomon Island.

Experience in Implementation Country(ies)

  • Yes, for more than one year.

In-country Networks

I am partnering with Save the Children to pilot the Reach & Match Inclusion Education Kits in Papua New Guinea and Solomon Island, aims to improve literacy and numeracy learning outcomes as well as enrolment for elementary-aged girls and children with disabilities. Save the Children has a robust team with excellent qualification and experience in education, disability, partnership and project management to work with me in applying the Education Kits to local communities.

Sector Expertise

  • I've worked in a sector related to my innovation for more than a year.

Sector Expertise - Elaborate

Reach & Match has been endorsed and implemented by the leading organisations and schools who work for children early intervention in Australia, and also support teachers and therapists from Department of Educations of Queensland, NSW and Victoria. My experience including inclusion advocacy, delivering training workshops and onsite consultations to educators and support workers.

Innovation Maturity

  • Existing Prototype or Pilot: I have tested a part of my solution with users and am iterating.

Organization Status

  • We are a registered for-profit company (including social enterprises).

Organization Location

Melbourne Australia


How has your Idea changed based on feedback?

The feedback from the experts is very helpful for us to understand more about the challenge. Discussion with the team and partners helps us to examine the details in implementations carefully. The User Experience Map is a great exercise for us to identify the key components in the user journey.

Who will implement this Idea?

Mandy will devote her time to work on it and also she is looking for a partner to support the project for emergency contexts. Currently we work with Save the Children to pilot the program in the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea for non-emergency contexts. Mandy will deliver the training to program officers, educators, local rehabilitation officers to ensure teaching quality. A combination of learning approaches such as demonstration teaching, micro-teaching, instruction-led and self-learning will be used. The pilot projects will be helpful for future projects in emergency contexts.

What challenges do your end-users face? (1) What is the biggest challenge that your end-users face on a day-to-day, individual level? (2) What is the biggest systems-level challenge that affects your end-users?

1 a) Children with disabilities face special difficulties in learning and often lack opportunities to play with other children. The end-users (children) do not have access to education. b) Teachers lack necessary resources. There are few products that facilitate inclusive learning for visually-impaired and other disabled children, especially for young children. It can be difficult to get schools and organizations to spend extra money to buy them. 2) Social & cultural barriers: children with disabilities face discrimination, are often isolated and viewed as a burden and even been a target for bullies. Social isolation or exclusion is both a cause and a consequence of difficult life situations that many people with disabilities commonly experience.

How is your organization considering sustainable growth in order to continue making an impact over time?

Reach & Match generates revenue by providing products and programs in developed countries and is well-adopted by the leading institutions and organisations in the world. R&M is dedicated to create more innovative and inclusive educational products in the future. We have a strong vision to bring Reach & Match for emergency use and developing countries where they have greatest need. Revenue that we generated from other contexts can help subsidise emergency contexts. When there is a greater demand in the world, the unit price will decrease and which will help to supply to developing countries.

Tell us about your vision for this project: (1) share one sentence about the impact that you would like to see from this project in five years and (2) what is the biggest question/hurdle you need to address to get there?

IMPACT: By 2022, we aim to have Reach and Match reached 4000 schools and homes to benefit over 100,000 young children and 500 teachers in 50 different countries across the world. Question: How can we develop a sustainable model which maintains the feasibility to apply to both developed and developing countries, while maintaining the educational value and the quality of delivery models and approaches and adapting to different cultural contexts?

How do you currently measure (or plan to measure) outcomes for this project?

The outcomes include improving literacy and numeracy learning for children with disabilities and girls, improving the learning participation rate of children with disabilities and improving the ability for teachers to teach children with disabilities. The learning progress will be measured by surveys and evaluated by teachers, program officers and education advisors. We have done field testing with organisations to measure the intervention effectiveness as regards to students’ disabilities.

What is the timeline for your project Idea? What are the key steps for implementation in the next 1-3 years?

Y1: -Collaborate with Save the Children to pilot in Solomon Island and Papua New Guinea for non-emergency contexts while learning to adapt the program to emergency context. -Delivery training workshops -Identify potential partners including Save the Children or Red Cross Y 2: -Monitor and evaluate program -Modify and improve measuring tools and methods -Collaborate with potential partners Y3 : -Project planning for emergency contexts in new countries -Form a team with right skills

My organization's operational budget for 2016 was:

  • Under $50,000 USD

How many of your team’s paid, full-time staff are currently based in the location where the beneficiaries of your proposed Idea live?

  • Under 5 paid, full-time staff

Is your organization registered in the country that you intend to implement your Idea in?

  • We are a registered entity, but not in the country in which we plan to implement our Idea.

How long have you and your colleagues been working on this Idea together?

  • More than 2 years

What do you need the most support with for your innovation?

  • Business Development / Partnerships Support
  • Understanding User and/or Community
  • Business Model Support


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