Published: 20th February 2021
This app helps teach kids with intellectual disabilities through colourfully positive stories
Typed Tales is a web app that teaches kids with ID to understand their emotions and learn practical skills — and inspire them to take things further
The year 2020 sure turned millions of lives upside down. But imagine having your whole life changed and not even understand why. Why is everyone suddenly wearing a mask? Why do I have to wear one? Why can't I go out anymore? Why can't I meet my best friend? Why can't I meet my special educator? These and a hundred other questions haunted several children with intellectual disabilities post COVID, and there was hardly any platform that solely focused on helping them.
So a group of students from NIFT Mumbai created an inclusive, e-learning tool that helps children with intellectual disabilities adapt to the new normal, understand and express emotions and learn other necessary skills through the power of stories. Typed Tales is a platform for kids with intellectual disabilities to learn, play and grow. It will mainly motivate the children to participate, engage with others in their community, voice their opinions, showcase their skills and spark conversations.
The team started out by doing a lot of research on what intellectual disability is. They chose to study closely the system around an autistic child
in India. For authentic research, they collaborated with Special Olympics Bharat and did an elaborate study on their athletes. "When we got connected with SO Bharat, we realised the pain points that the athletes with intellectual disabilities were facing. When the pandemic happened, there were a lot of changes and a lot of platforms were being created which were making remote education easier. But this group was neglected in the transition. The platforms that were available had content that was full of jargon or made in a way that children with intellectual disabilities could not handle it," explains Saloni, a member of the team.
With Typed Tales, a web app, kids can kids identify emotions, build relationships and be mindful through stories. "In case of children with intellectual disability, visuals appeal more. If you give them paragraphs after paragraphs of written material, they would just get confused. You have to make it illustrative and colorful. The app has a story board that is colourful, but has no distractions, the characters are rounded, easy on the eye and the text is to the point," explains Krithika, another team member..
The team also communicated with around 25 parents of kids with intellectual disability and their special educators and found that everyone was already stressed with the situation, many were out of jobs. Many parents said they don't have time for their children. There was a huge communication gap that the pandemic brought about.
The app addresses this through different playlands, all of which have a different theme. For instance, the Awareness House helps you understand emotions and thoughts. A Whole New World is a guide to help kids in the post COVID era. There's an option for people to contribute stories. The stories will also help parents talk about difficult subjects with their children. It's an open source platform which means anyone can contribute.
The app gets about 6,000 visits everyday and is sponsored by the Innovation grant of Special Olympics Bharat. The team is also periodically planning to upload stories and organise interactive workshops to create tales with the special athletes.