Augmented reality (AR) utilization in education is currently gaining a huge interest, especially in special education. Handling students with special needs require different treatments, but the flexibility and functionality that AR offers make it easier to meet the students' needs.

Types of disabilities are pretty much varied; it's important for you as a teacher to cater to each student to achieve the learning goals. AR can accommodate these learning experiences so that you can customize your lessons — tailored to their personal limitations.

Augmented reality in Special Education

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD)

A boy helping his friend with disability to read a book.
Photo: Friendship Circle

Incorporating AR for ASD students proves to be effective in different aspects — be it to increase their attention span, practice social & motor skills, or learn new tasks or vocabularies.

1. Understand facial expressions

While it's hard for ASD students to recognize other people's emotions through facial expressions, AR made it possible.

In one research, people with ASD were told stories and illustrations about one particular emotion. Then, they were asked to choose the appropriate emotion on an AR mirror system. The result was quite interesting; AR was proven to raise their awareness about people's emotions!

2. Practice social skills

Public schools in California used an AR app called MOSOCO to help students with or without special needs about their social skills; from practicing eye contact, interacting with people, asking questions, and sharing interests.

Moreover, AR can also be used to learn about non-verbal social cues. Through a storybook, children can see a video popped up on each social cue using an AR app. Not only that they showed interest, but the children also demonstrated a greater ability to recognize facial expressions.

3. Train motor skills

Apparently, research shows that AR was proven to improve children's fine motor skills. They were able to practice better self-control movements in a fun and engaging experience!

4. Teach new vocabulary

Learning new vocabulary is another challenge for children with ASD. However, AR breaks the barrier — they were able to learn science-related vocabularies in a shorter time yet with higher effectivity and improvement.

5. Increase students' attention

Since AR enables the students to view a popped-up visualization, they particularly showed a higher involvement, engagement, enjoyment, and motivation to learn. One research even finds out that AR increased students' participation by 62% in learning about object discrimination.

Other disabilities

One disabled boy student learning with his friends in one desk.
Photo: iteach

Aside from psychological disabilities, AR can also help students with many other disabilities. For example, students with hearing or speech impediments can learn to converse, communicate, and understand better using AR apps on a smartphone.

Moreover, AR can also be a handy tool for children that experience difficulties in coordination. Through 3D objects and pictures of geographical locations, they can interact with the come-to-life objects, hence exposing them to different cultures, landscapes, and environments.

For students with learning disabilities in mathematics, such as dyscalculia, AR-based education apps can be utilized to create interactive and engaging lessons. As for students with language disabilities, AR can also be helpful to improve fluency and pronunciation of a certain language.

What kind of AR applications can you use?

Although it's more than possible to use AR headsets, AR smartphone apps are inevitably much easier and accessible; not only for teachers but also for the students.

In addition, AR apps allow you to break space and time barriers — especially during the pandemic. In a way, with AR experiences, students can feel entertained while learning despite having to do it virtually.

Among many kinds of AR-based smartphone apps, Assemblr EDU is extremely worth your try. As teachers, you can build your own lessons from scratch to fit your students' capabilities; on the other hand, you can also use our pre-made AR learning materials on different topics!

Video: Assemblr World (YouTube)

Lately, Assemblr EDU has been adopted by five special schools in West Java, Indonesia: SLBN Pangeran Cakrabuana, SLBN Putra Hanjuang, SLBN Citereup, SLBN Bandung Barat, and SLBN Tamansari.

As our School Ambassadors, we have been equipping the schools above with free training to maximize AR implementations on their students' learning experiences; especially by focusing on the thematic approach.

Particularly, we have been practicing three implementations for their classroom activities: AR books — either the ones we made or their own, making use of AR markers to create interactive flashcards, and using a storytelling approach.

We believe that education needs to be more inclusive; a great education is made for everyone. With AR experiences, we are hoping that Assemblr EDU can be a tool to help transform special education.

In Assemblr, we believe that all people – including you – can create and present your own AR experiences. With an easy-to-use application, Assemblr empowers people to implement AR in any occasion. Interested to unveil more possibilities of AR? Download Assemblr now, available in App Store and Play Store!