Inspiration: Learning inside the classroom is such a unique experience that is influenced by many different factors. Unfortunately, for students who have special needs, the classroom can be a daunting experience, one where it's impossible to communicate what they need. Using the guiding philosophy of Ludwig Wittgenstein, we realized that symbols are a better way for nonverbal students and those with other special needs to express their wants and needs to otherwise incredibly busy teachers. It is a means to cultivate a more healthy learning environment and push not just kids with special needs forward, but the classroom as a whole.
What it does: Using a Mozilla text to speech, we have a variety of icons that are important to use for communication. These icons are split between ones classified as essential, such as bathroom breaks or fatigue, and ones that are conversational/educational, meant to let them interact and communicate with their fellow classmates.
Challenges we ran into: As stated earlier, the backend ended up having to take a back seat (no pun intended) to make sure the websites upfront functionality was up to spec. The backend does exist, but due to time constraints, we weren't able to connect it to the website itself. Along with that, functionality regarding the images popping out as modals caused a bug with the text-to-speech message being repeated twice, along with not working for most of the icons.
Accomplishments that we're proud of: The website is very easy to read and comprehend, as we took into consideration the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to make sure that this app actually would be helpful for students with special needs. Our implementation of text-to-speech as well worked out incredibly well, especially considering it was worked on towards the end of development.
What we learned: We learned about how to best manage time when learning new APIs, as well as how to most efficiently delegate and accomplish tasks to create a product. We also learned how to ask each other for help, how to find solutions to problems that we were facing independently, and bolster each other when we were struggling.
What's next for Wittgenstein: We would like to enhance our backend implementation with the CloudSQL database and the ability to add individual icons or symbols that would be useful to different teachers. As well, fixing the modal feature, and including perhaps some more essential symbols. Additionally, gaining some more perspective on the various types of classroom struggles special education students may face could help us develop new features.