Visually impaired kids have challenges in learning certain educational concepts. It could be in the domain of geometry, science, technology etc. These challenges also vary based on the availability of resources contextual to specific regions. How can these challenges be addressed to enable the VI kids easily learn and cope up with the concepts and practical learning aspects?
According to Kartik Sawhney, who is a disability advocate and technologist, one of the five problems that keep VI students away from STEM subjects is the scarcity of resources providing for a solid conceptual understanding of STEM for the blind. It was found that this problem substantiated by the observations/ experiences at the schools for the blind in case of geometry, a subject that became the point of focus for one of the projects in this challenge.
During an interview with one of the Teachers for Visually Impaired (TVIs) at Devnar School for the Blind in Hyderabad, India, it was understood that not only it was difficult for the VI students to grasp the concepts of geometry, but it was also challenging to teach the same. While the students in the school used tactile templates to touch and register shapes, there was a lack of tools that established a relationship between different shapes and connected geometry with the observable world. Thus, there was no means to bring a natural intuition for the subject that could form the basis of a formal course in geometry.
The problem is further compounded in schools where teaching aids and appropriate infrastructure are at a bare minimum. During one of the visits to Louis Adarsh Blind School in Warangal, India, which is a charity-run school in a dilapidated condition, there weren't any tactile teaching aids or even sufficient amounts of braille-printed books. This is the case with many of the schools for the blind in developing countries like India which have large populations of VI students (at least 200,000 in India alone).
It was identified that a need for easy-to-procure educational aids to help understand relationships among/between geometric shapes and the environment, and have the potential to be used for practicing geometry. Based on this, the following parameters were identified as necessary for the solutions to accomplish the objective:
1. The designs should be easily 3D printable so that anyone with the CAD (Computer Aided Designs) files and access to even a low-quality 3D printer can print them.
2. These aids should not go beyond the scope of the curriculum, rather supplement the topics in the curriculum.
3. The designs should be easy to understand and tickle curiosity and imagination in the user.
While the above research provides specific direction based on the interviews and the insights found from the chosen context, we encourage you to identify and address specific challenges you've identified from your experience as well. So, you can specify the the details of the challenge you/your team had identified and accordingly scope the problem.