Help Design Assistive Technology for Blind Students
Ever wonder how people with visual impairments keep up in a digital world? As mainstream technologies become more visual, assistive devices must adapt to overcome new challenges faced by people who are blind.
We are a group of 14 juniors in the Gemstone Program, an interdisciplinary Honors program in which students take on 3-year research projects. Research suggests that while math is exceptionally difficult for students who are blind due to its visual nature, there is little research being conducted to improve the ineffective practices for blind math education. Team Haptic, under the mentorship of Dr. Marcio Oliveira (Assistant Dean, School of Public Health), is researching a technological solution to help overcome the educational barriers faced by children who are blind. Specifically, we are using an electrostatic touchscreen, which runs electrical pulses through the screen of a Microsoft Surface, in order to allow children who are blind to feel the images that are displayed on the screen. We are seeking funding for the hardware (a Microsoft Surface 3) and software (Matlab professional license and Image Processing Toolbox) necessary for us to develop a device that can accurately and intuitively display graphs, shapes, and drawings in a tactile way so that children who are blind can keep up during visually-based math lessons. Any additional funding will be used to increase our recruitment efforts and include more children who are blind in our learning study, which will improve the validity of our findings.
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