Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Technology to improve learning for visually-impaired children

27.04.2006


Supporting learning for blind and visually-impaired children in schools is the goal of a system that offers collaboration, data exploration, communication and creativity based on a common software architecture. Already interfaces and application prototypes are being tested.



Partners in the IST programme-funded MICOLE project, the teams responsible are working in close contact with national and local associations and organisations of visually-disabled persons, as well as schools. Their main task is to design the system itself. However, project coordinator Roope Raisamo, University of Tampere, Finland, describes several supporting activities emphasising users and their real needs.

“We are experimenting with how to use different senses to partially replace missing visual capabilities, especially in tasks that are central in the construction of the system,” he says. “Empirical research of collaborative and cross-modal haptic interfaces for visually-impaired children is one of the most important research activities.”


Haptic technology interfaces with the user through the sense of touch. This emerging technology adds the sense of touch to previously visual-only solutions. MICOLE’s software architecture and applications are multimodal, that is, they use hearing and touch to complement different levels of visual disability.

Their work extends beyond developing an assistive tool. “In addition to MICOLE’s immediate value as a tool, the system will have societal implications by improving the inclusion of the visually disabled in education, work and society in general,” explains Raisamo.

Initial field studies involved interviews with teachers, children and related user organisations as well as observations of actual group work in schools. The objective was to determine how visually-impaired children collaborate in school with peers and teachers, and to understand to what extent they engage in group work.

“The interaction among the pupils, with teachers and with their peers is very important for learning,” says Raisamo. “We know that collaborative learning has benefits because the pupils learn through a dialogue with their peers and construct their own knowledge by doing tasks together with others.”

Field study results from Austria, Finland, France, Greece, Ireland, Lithuania, Sweden and the UK showed major differences in the education of visually-impaired children, however, they revealed many similarities regarding aspects of collaboration. Based on these results, a prototyping workshop was held in Stockholm where the school situation for such pupils was addressed. Various hapitc and auditory applications developed within MICOLE were assessed and new designs formulated.

He notes there are no specific requirements for the users of the system. “The system adapts to the users. It is aimed at visually-impaired children, but because it facilitates collaboration among sighted and visually-impaired children, it also supports sighted children.”

A multimodal system with visual, audio and haptic feedback can support many kinds of users with disabilities because missing one of the modalities does not make the system unusable, Raisamo adds.

Project partners have developed or tested 16 different interfaces and application prototypes, such as explorative learning of the earth’s internal layers, rhythm reproduction, a tactile maze game, virtual maracas (percussion instruments), post-its with a haptic barcode, an electric circuit browser, a haptic simon game, memory games, a haptic turtle and a haptic game of the classic first video game, pong.

For example, to better teach natural phenomenon, such as seasons, gravity and the solar system, project partners constructed a system using proactive agents that offer the pupil help when necessary. The user decides whether to accept help comprised of visual, auditory and haptic feedback to present content.

Project partners include European and world leaders in the area of haptics and multimodal-human-computer interaction. For example, Reachin Technologies AB is a world leader in haptic technology; France Telecom has experience in developing applications for the blind.

“MICOLE offers an outstanding opportunity and the critical mass for the consortium to integrate and realise results of their earlier work and to test the most novel ideas to meet the needs of the visually impaired,” says Raisamo. “The results are expected to make a valuable European contribution to the development of the information society and real-world equality for visually-disabled children, empowering them as future citizens.”

The multimodal software architecture to create new applications is under construction. Scientific results from multimodal navigation and cross-modal presentation of information are being fed in to the team’s work. The three-year project is scheduled to end in August 2007.

Tara Morris | alfa
Further information:
http://istresults.cordis.europa.eu.int/index.cfm/section/news/tpl/article/BrowsingType/Features/ID/81631
http://istresults.cordis.lu/

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht The TU Ilmenau develops tomorrow’s chip technology today
27.04.2017 | Technische Universität Ilmenau

nachricht Five developments for improved data exploitation
19.04.2017 | Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Künstliche Intelligenz GmbH, DFKI

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Fighting drug resistant tuberculosis – InfectoGnostics meets MYCO-NET² partners in Peru

28.04.2017 | Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Wireless power can drive tiny electronic devices in the GI tract

28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering

Ice cave in Transylvania yields window into region's past

28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis

28.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>