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Derwen College has been involved in filming for exciting new apps which support Covid-safety awareness for people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). The apps are being developed by Starfish Labs, and are part funded by the Welsh government.

Derwen College was happy to be involved in this new Covid apps project, with some of our Derwen College clients demonstrating tasks such as how to put on and remove a mask, keep living areas clean and wash hands effectively.

The partnership between Derwen College and Starfish Labs is one that the college is very proud of. The college has also developed a suite of award-winning apps with Starfish Labs which support people with SEND into work.

Starfish, Neil Bevan, Derwen College, apps to improve life for people with SEND
Starfish Labs director Neil Bevan

Starfish director Neil Bevan is also an industry champion for the college, offering his expertise in industry to staff and students.

Neil Bevan explained this latest partnership:

“Starfish Labs are developing a suite of apps to help people with learning difficulties and disabilities to understand the ongoing changes in society due to Covid-19, the importance of hands, face, space messages, and appropriate face coverings and how to wear them. The apps are being part funded by Welsh Government and will be fully bilingual in Welsh and English – also using Makaton symbols to aid understanding.

“Starfish partnered with Derwen College and Knew Productions to develop video sequences for the apps. The filming went really well and the Derwen College clients all seemed to be enjoying the experience – both in front of the camera, and in watching what was going on behind the scenes. Some are obviously natural actors!

Paul was filmed demonstrating the importance of keeping your home clean.

“The unique feature of the apps is that carers, parents or teachers can upload their own content to support the pre-loaded video and cartoon guides, so that the user’s own type of mask, hand washing routine, social distancing support etc., can be shown in their own environment. This is particularly important for many users with learning difficulties who just don’t connect with generic scenarios that don’t show their own home or local environment, or their own type of face covering or wash basin.

Developing our relationship

“Having worked with Derwen College on a number of previous projects, Starfish Labs are delighted to be developing our relationship with the college further, in both the creation of the content for the apps and in user-testing with students and clients. By working with Derwen educationalists in the SEND sector to find out what’s really needed, we can create products that fulfil that need rather than a generic ‘one size fits all’ solution. This becomes even more effective for users and their families as they can use the pre-loaded guidance in the apps, based on government public health messages, simplified for ease of understanding by Derwen’s experts in the field, to create their own content that’s appropriate for their family member or student’s level of understanding.

“Starfish Labs are grateful to the Welsh Government for their support in part funding this ground breaking project, and the apps will be shortly be available for a small charge to support ongoing development, and similar products, on the App Store and Google Play”.


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