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Transforming the classroom

Nesta invests in education technology set to help young people with autism and a range of learning difficulties

Posted by Hannah Oakman | September 12, 2014 | Business

Nesta Impact Investments is backing education technology that will help transform the classroom experience for many young people with learning difficulties and enable teachers to give better feedback to students.

Nesta’s investment in Ai-Media UK will see high quality live captioning (Ai-Live) being used to engage young people in schools and universities, helping them to improve their learning and development.

Originally developed in Australia to support people with deafness in mainstream schools and workplaces, the success of Ai-Live has led to it being developed for children and young people with many different needs.

Eileen Hopkins, Executive Director at Ai-Media UK says: "Ai-Live has the power to transform lives. Children with autism or for whom English is an additional language face considerable barriers to accessing education. For students with an ASD, the technology helps by removing metaphor and figurative language, breaking down a teacher’s instruction into simple steps. It also allows teachers to analyse and improve their classroom performance.

We've seen what a powerful tool this technology is for deaf people, and now with Nesta's support we have the potential to reach many more young people and raise their educational outcomes.”

Jude Ragan, Principal Of Queensmill School, which educates over 140 children and young people with autism in both specialist units and mainstream schools, says she believes it will be of huge benefit to students: “Children with autism are generally visual learners, and particularly when integrated into mainstream classes get lost and overwhelmed by the spoken language used.  Ai-Live will give them the reassurance they need to be able to refer and crucially re-refer to either a verbatim real-time printed account of what has been said by the teacher, or a summary, depending on their need and understanding.”

Isabel Newman from Nesta says: “We are excited by the potential of Ai-Live to reach a wider audience and expand into new areas, such as supporting young people with autism. As schools and universities look to use new technology more effectively to support their students we believe Ai-Media is well placed to play a part in that.”

Ai-Media UK is a social business that uses high quality live captioning (Ai-Live) to engage young learners in schools and universities helping them to improve their learning and development. Originally developed in Australia to support people with deafness in mainstream schools and workplaces, the success of Ai-Live has led to it being developed for children and young people with many different needs.

Ai-Media’s Co-founder and CEO, Tony Abrahams says: “Ai-Live is an adaptable tool that is lifting education outcomes for those with autism, learning difficulties and for whom English is an additional language in schools and universities. Primary school teachers in Birmingham, Dudley and London, are using Ai-Live to analyse and improve their classroom performance. 

"We share Nesta’s vision for social investment that builds social capital and delivers a return for investors. With Nesta’s backing, we will be able to broaden access to our innovations and assist more people – as we report social impact and financial targets.”

Dr Jacqui Ashton Smith, from the National Autistic Society says: “The National Autistic Society always strives to be at the forefront of innovation for students and we are really excited about the possibilities offered by captioning for students with an ASD.”

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