Gesture-Based Technology with Special Needs Students with Severe Learning Difficulties

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Welcome to the website of the Winner of the Naace SEN Impact Award 2015!

This site is run by teachers in special schools and aims to explore how established and emerging gesture based technology can help people with severe learning difficulties with their engagement, creativity and independence skills. Everything in it has been tried and tested by us with real pupils in real schools and this site is not run or sponsored by any private companies (though we do accept help from time to time). There are plenty of relatively inexpensive or free things to try out here too.

Quick Background to this Site:

Special needs schools in Wales, England and Ireland set up a Professional Learning Community (PLC) looking at exploring how established and emerging gesture based technology can be used for sensory interaction and engagement with pupils with special educational needs (SEN), especially severe learning difficulties (SLD) and Permanent and Multiple Learning Disabilities (PMLD). Our first group was from 2012-2014 and our evidence can be viewed here.

For an overview of the work the group is doing read this or this article from SEN Magazine Click here.

2014-2016: Our PLC looks at Video Evidence and Analysis and more information can be found here: .

This video from Trinity Fields for the Naace 3rd Milennium Award showing our use of all the Gesture Technology on these pages is a good starting point to learn what this is all about....

Information and Resources:

This page is the 'gateway' page to a host of others. We are currently using and researching the following devices in schools:


EyeGazeSEN - EyeGaze technology is enabling students to access learning in ways they haven't been able to do before. Check out the link to see more information about the hardware, programs and how to get started in your special school or setting. This link also includes information on the emerging field of Eyetracking for recording and assessing pupils.



If you are interested in using the amazing Kinect/Kinect2 motion sensor with SEN then this page has all the information that's there for software and how to set up the Kinect to work with PC or Mac. Also has links to interactive floor projections.



This gesture-based technology allows you to use hand and finger gestures. Click on the link to find out more information about using the LeapMotion with SEN.


An excellent resource with links to loads of apps that have been tested with SLD and PMLD students. From a PLC from 2012-2013 but also updated still and a great place to start for PMLD/SLD pupils.

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Virtual Reality SEN

The Oculus Rift Dev2 kit is an amazing experience. This link is showing the journey of Virtual Reality from an idea to practical use in a special school. (It is gesture based technology as you move your head to see around you!)

For the Latest News about future technology check out the News Page.

PLC Members 2012-2014 were:

Trinity Fields School and Resource Centre, Caerphilly. Anthony.
Oak Grove College, West Sussex. James & Keith.
Exeter House Special School, Salisbury. Andrew.
Little Angels School, Donegal. Sue.
Crug Glas Special School, Swansea. Annie/Ann.
Ashgrove Special School, Penarth. Simon/ Ben.
Erw'r Delyn School, Penarth.
Maes Ebbw Special School, Newport. Nick.
Heronsbridge Special School, Bridgend. Sylvia/ Heini/ Allison.
Portfield Special School. Haverfordwest. Gavin.
Pen Maes Special School, Brecon. Alison and Jonathan.
The Hollies School, Cardiff. Chris.
Fountaindale School, Nottingham. Kate and Steve.
Gwent Visual Impairment Service. Jan/Ann.
Dr Wendy Keay-Bright, UWIC.
Richard Hirstwood, Independent.
Flo Longhorn, Independent.

The final meeting of the Kinect PLC was in June 2014 at Trinity Fields School and Resource Centre. We all presented our pupil evidence- which is going up here.

The focus of our next PLC is video analysis- the work done so far by Andrew Walker at Exeter House School can be found here. See here for more information of the current PLC.

In February 2014 we also had the fortune to see the prototype version of the new Somantics- Somability from the CARIAD team. A write up of that can be found here.

A meeting was held on the 19th September 2013 at Y Senedd, the Welsh Parliament building in Cardiff Bay. The PLC ran alongside the CARIAD design team launch and included a paper prototyping session. The session designed an interactive Kinect program called 'Wiggle' which can be accessed on the Kinect SEN page.

Member Links

Anthony Rhys, ICT co-ordinator and teacher at Trinity Fields School and Resource Centre in Ystrad Mynach, Wales. The school gained Sector Leading Practice from Estyn in 2012 for its use of Gesture Based Technology with pupils with Severe Learning Disabilities. The school also was awarded the Naace 3rd Millennium Award in 2014 and won the Naace SEN Impact Award 2015 as head of the PLC group. More images and information are at: Also on Twitter @trinityfieldsit

James Winchester has been working on using gesture based technology with SEN at his school Oak Grove College in Worthing in West Sussex, England. His excellent blog can be found here: Also on twitter @jwinchester25
Andrew Walker is leading the new PLC looking at video analysis and is using gesture based technology at Exeter House Special School as part of a Wiltshire wide project called Inspire Create Teach. Also on twitter@andtomac

Susan McCarthy at Little Angels School in Donegal, Ireland has also been trying out the gesture based technology in Ireland. Also on twitter @LittleAngelsSch

Keith Manville is coding his own applications to use with students at Oak Grove College. He has also been involved in using the gesture based technology with students. His excellent blog can be found here Also on twitter @Open_SEN