[games_access] Reactive Colours - games aimed at Autistic children

Barrie Ellis barrie.ellis at oneswitch.org.uk
Mon May 15 14:02:06 EDT 2006

The wonderful Reactive Colours web-site has just been launched. They have 
devised a number of interactive programs, aimed autistic children (but great 
for kids of all abilities).

There's much more information at the home page: www.reactivecolours.org

with on-line Flash games to play here: 
http://www.reactivecolours.org/gallery/  - some great with head trackers or 
switches too.

The following is taken from their project description:

"The Reactive Colours© website presents an opportunity to explore together 
methods of open learning, development, and creativity. Reactive Colours© is 
intended to be a free resource, on the internet, (and offline in other 
contexts where the there may be a cost for additional support material) in 
which Intellectual Property will be protected, but open to development.

Reactivities© are reactive multimedia activities that respond to touch and 
sound, in a manner that is completely responsive to user input. 
Reactivities© may be standalone classroom activities or free to explore 
through the Reactive Colours© web portal. Reactivities© are designed to 
encourage individuals with autistic spectrum differences and learning 
disabilities to use computers, and through which they can develop mouse, 
keyboard, programming and screen skills and deliberately emphasise the 
characteristics of computing that are of potential significance to people on 
the autism spectrum.

The computer can in effect become a tactile response mechanism attuned to 
the distinctive perspectives and perceptions of autistic children and primed 
for imaginative play, the development of attention skills, shared experience 
and exploratory learning.

The capacity to have fun is an almost universal human coping resource for 
dealing with boredom and stress. Yet many autistic children appear not to 
discover how to have fun at all, and hence do not discover a vital tool for 
reducing anxiety and releasing energy. They may be even less likely to 
discover how to enjoy shared fun with other people.

The opportunity to have fun provided by Reactivities© may have an overall 
impact on anxiety levels in general, it also has great social potential. 
Feeling good about other people, and other people feeling good about you, 
are fundamental to social inclusion.

We believe Reactivities© can help autistic children become more aware of 
other children, more aware of other people's actions and emotions, more 
engaged in other people's interests and more likely to wish to interact with 
them. All of those are vital to overcoming autistic isolation and motivating 
the development of social skills.

The potential to promote a happy, creative learning environment is therefore 
accelerated by helping to overcome many of the obstacles a child's autism 
can put in the way of his or her education.

Initial concept Reactivities© have been co-developed and designed with 
teachers, therapists, experts and children at a special school. An 
evaluation of these experiential interfaces has taken place that indicates 
significant promise.

A model of research and design development, together with an integrated 
promotion and distribution strategy, has been defined which proposes that 
participation and collaboration would be most successful through the use of 
electronic digital networks. Opportunities for user-focused development and 
iteration are further enhanced through the availability on the Reactive 
Colours© website of a discreet programming code. This code will provide 
individuals keen to experiment with computation, access to the tools needed 
to customise the software and to share their Reactivities© with others.

The Reactive Colours© team have extensive high level experience of managing, 
designing and promoting national scale projects in educational, community, 
and ICT related areas. The Project team have a varied set of skills and 
interests combining research, analytical and communication skills, community 
maintenance, programming, web architecture and implementation as well as 
expertise in autistic spectrum differences, interactive design, experience 
design, ICT, and education.
The creators of this open source network seek users on the autism spectrum 
of all ages, and welcome their collaboration.

The Reactive Colours© research project is based in the Centre for Research 
in Art & Design, Cardiff School of Art & Design, University of Wales 
Institute, Cardiff." 

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