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 Construction of practical quantum computers radically simplified
05.12.2016 | University of Sussex

nachricht UT professor develops algorithm to improve online mapping of disaster areas
29.11.2016 | University of Tennessee at Knoxville

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Closing the carbon loop

08.12.2016 | Life Sciences

Applicability of dynamic facilitation theory to binary hard disk systems

08.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

Scientists track chemical and structural evolution of catalytic nanoparticles in 3-D

08.12.2016 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>