Disability, play and robotics in kindergartens

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Valentina Pennazio


This paper presents a study into the integration of robotics in the design of play-based environments in kindergartens. The activities, which were carried out in kindergartens in Liguria, Italy, employed specially designed robots and were intended to: support and complement normal play and social activities; help all children, including those with severe disabilities, to develop social and communication competencies; mediate and facilitate relationships between all children, irrespective of disability. Realtime monitoring of the robot-mediated play sessions was complemented by analysis of video recordings. Bundy’s Test of Playfulness was administered, as was an observation test connected to the IROMEC robot. The study resulted in evaluation of the potential and limitations related to deployment of robots in structured play environments designed to facilitate the inclusion of children with physical disabilities in kindergarten.

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