TCAT students take up the software challenge

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Students Matthew Nock, Joseph Comery and Liam Easter with Dan Blasczyk, and Victoria Yaneva

Telford College of Arts and Technology students have been offered the chance to help shape a ground-breaking piece of software designed to make learning easier for people with autism.

Victoria Yaneva, a PhD student at the University of Wolverhampton, visited the TCAT campus to explain her ‘AUTOR 4 Autism’ project to members of the student council.

She said: “I was delighted to be invited to speak to students about our research on reading among people with autism and about AUTOR – an assistive software package we are developing for people with reading comprehension difficulties.

“I was surprised to find out how many of the TCAT students were aware of the characteristics of the condition, and how keen they were to find out more and get involved in our research.

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Victoria Yaneva explains her software plans to TCAT students

“The development of assistive software and raising autism awareness would not be possible without the involvement and curiosity of students and school staff, which is why we are very grateful to Telford College for their invitation and support.”

The idea of the AUTOR software is to create documents which are easier to read for people on the autism spectrum, or with other levels of learning disabilities.

It is hoped that it can be developed into an add-on which would not only help people with autism, but also support those from non-English speaking backgrounds.

Victoria said she was keen for students at Telford College to help with the research – and she got an enthusiastic response, with many declaring an immediate interest.

Daniel Blasczyk, enrichment facilitator at TCAT, said: “Our student council members are always willing to contribute to making a positive impact in the college, and the outside community.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for our students to take part in this project that is being run by our partners at University of Wolverhampton.

“They will be able to contribute to the development of software which will be able to assist learners on the autism spectrum disorder and give them the confidence to go ahead and achieve their full potential.”

Daniel said he would be inviting Victoria back in to Telford College over World Autism Awareness Week, from March 27 to April 2, to raise awareness of autism and the AUTOR software.

“Victoria is not only looking for students with autism to assist with the project, but also students that do not have autism to take part,” he said.

About Association of Colleges West Midlands

AoC West Midlands promotes and supports the interests of 38 general further education, sixth form and specialist colleges throughout the West Midlands region. The West Midlands is a diverse region and our colleges reflect this diversity. From small specialist colleges in rural locations to large inner city establishments, colleges reflect the needs of their local environment. Working closely with employers, learners and the local community, our 38 member colleges offer a broad range of flexible learning opportunities for individuals at all levels. They aim to give local people the skills they need for success and prosperity, tackling barriers to learning and providing opportunities that meet the needs of individuals and employers
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