Teaching children with intellectual disabilities is a big challenge for most parents and educators. Special education teachers use learning strategies to develop and enhance motivation for complex learning tasks. Literacy acquisition is an essential and life-long skill for a child with intellectual disabilities. In this context, technology can support specific strategies that will help children learn to read. This paper introduces a Tangible User Interface (TUI) system based on Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology to support literacy for children with Down syndrome. Our proposed system focuses on the integration of RFID tags in 3D printed objects and low cost toys. The paper describes the experience of using some materials covering the tags and the different problems related to the material and distance of radio wave propagation. The results of a preliminary evaluation in a special education institution showed that the system helps to improve the interaction between teachers and children. The use of a TUI seems to give a physical sensory experience to develop literacy skills in children with Down syndrome.
Keywords: Down syndrome; RFID; interaction; literacy; tangible user interface.