From braille to iPad: a new app enables the blind to learn online

We have developed an iPad app that is supplemented with print and braille materials. We decided on an iPad app when we realized that tablet devices were starting to become a potential alternative to the desktop computers that are typically found in schools.
Imagine you are a sixth grader.
Each of your classmates is going to the computer lab for a math lesson on ratios and proportions. They sit down at their computers, launch the tutoring program and get to work. 
Everyone but you – because you can’t see the screen: you’re blind.
You’ve tried screen reading software but it hasn’t worked very well. Your teacher has tried to help but no one in the school really knows how to set up, maintain and trouble-shoot assistive technologies.
The program isn’t available in braille, so you end up doing some basic worksheets instead of participating with your classmates.
The growth of online learning has thrown up new challenges for those with visual impairment as the learning tools are often not available. It’s also been a challenge for those working on making websites accessible to the visually impaired. It takes extra work and testing.
Now, the Animal Watch Vi Suite (AWViS) project based at The University of Arizona, is developing a math tutoring program for middle school students who have mild, moderate or severe visual impairments.
I am part of a group of researchers combining the software program with more traditional resources such as large print or braille books, to enable visually impaired students access new technology.

A new app for visually impaired

We have developed an iPad app that is supplemented with print and braille materials. We decided on an iPad app when we realized that tablet devices were starting to become a potential alternative to the desktop computers that are typically found in schools.
Students who are blind can touch the left side of the iPad screen to hear the math problem, or the right side to hear a description of the picture illustrating the problem.
The good thing is that most students with visual impairment have some vision.
Students with low vision can double-tap to enlarge the print to the size that is right for them.
The app provides students with support for their math problem solving. Students get three attempts on each word problem. Those with some vision can use an integrated Scratch Pad for working out the solution.
If a student is unable to solve a problem, he or she can watch a screen-capture, fully-narrated video showing the solution, turning a failure point into a learning opportunity. The narrator describes each step so that the explanation can be understood by a student who is blind…….
Read more: http://theconversation.com/from-braille-to-ipad-a-new-app-enables-the-blind-to-learn-online-39739
Source and Image: The Conversation
 

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