Spotlight with Grapheel: Making STEM Education Accessible for Blind Students

 
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In this exciting Spotlight interview, James Oates sits down with the highly intelligent team at Grapheel Innovation. The team consists of: • Daniel Hajas: Blind, theoretical physics student with PhD in Informatics, special research interest on accessible STEM. • Tim Lingard: Programmer and physicist, PhD student at the Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation (Portsmouth), Head of Information Systems and online services. • David Turner: Physics student at Sussex, Head of R&D at Grapheel, researching engineering solutions for the Tactile Graphics Display. The team discusses the enormous problem that exist in providing Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics education to people who are blind or visually impaired. They explained the three-pronged approach that they have devised to conquer this problem. Step one is called “Iris,” which is a science community based image description service specifically for STEM graphical content used as teaching material. The student uploads an image, and receives a detailed description from a volunteer who is a professional in that field of study. The second is a consultancy scheme where they will advise on solutions that are in existence for accessible science. Various assistive software, hardware, teaching resources, good practice in science accessibility and so on. The third is the development of a Tactile Graphics Display. They wish to carry out hardware research and development and concentrate on materials science for developing cost and performance efficient actuators. They also wish to collaborate with the various initiatives developing their own tactile displays and open their operating system for third party developers. This way Grapheel could develop STEM specific applications for already existing tactile graphics display devices, since there are organizations like the American Printing House for the Blind, doing a great job in the hardware development front. Visit Grapheel’s website to learn more or get involved in helping in this remarkable effort. You can also follow Grapheel on Twitter.

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