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16 March 2010

Innovative teaching tools to aid visually impaired students learn math

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In what could be a boon for kids with visual disabilities, researchers at the University of Illinois are creating innovative teaching tools that are expected to help the children learn mathematics more easily - and perhaps multiply their career opportunities by the time they reach adulthood

Sheila Schneider, who is a senior and the first student who is legally blind to major in sculpture in the School of Art+Design within the College of Fine and Applied Arts at Illinois, is creating a series of small sculptures with mathematical equations imprinted on them in Braille that will be used to help children with visual impairments learn mathematics.

The equations will be written in Nemeth Code, a form of Braille used for mathematical and scientific symbols.

"The sculptures are organic forms that are designed to be hand-held by children around the ages of 7-10. They're designed from the viewpoint of a younger child," said Deana McDonagh, a professor of industrial design and the lead investigator on the project.

"They're very engaging, fun educational tools, and when the children run their hands over them, they'll realize that there are Braille equations embedded within the forms. We're hoping that they'll become mainstream educational tools," added McDonagh.


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