Irish researchers have helped to create a first-of-its-kind technology platform designed to improve how maths is taught to blind and visually impaired students.
Researchers at Dublin City University (DCU) are part of a European project aiming to level the playing field of learners with visual impairments when it comes to learning mathematics.
The new online application, which is a working prototype, allows teachers to prepare maths in the usual printed notation, and present this to a student in Braille, and vice versa.
“This is hugely important for children and the Irish education system,” said Dónal Fitzpatrick, assistant professor in the DCU School of Computing. Mr Fitzpatrick is working with partners in Poland and the Netherlands on the platform.
“As it currently stands, there isn’t enough support for children with visual impairments in this country, and that is reflected in the significantly low number of those with visual impairments choosing honours maths as a subject.
“If you think about how you might approach explaining to a young student with a visual impairment what a cylinder is, or how to use fractions, this can be a challenge if you don’t know how.
“This innovative platform and practical tools that we have developed have proven methodologies and best practice examples on how best to explain and teach children of all ages so that both teachers and students will benefit.”
Teachers and students can use the platform remotely or in class.
An online resource with best-practice examples to support teachers has also been developed, which means they have access to hundreds of proven methodologies and explanations of how best to teach children with visual impairments. This is the first resource of its type available in Ireland.
The work is part of a European project called EuroMath, which aims to provide enhanced support to teachers and students with visual impairments in inclusive educational settings.
Funded under the Erasmus+ programme, EuroMath is an international research project, comprising teams in Poland (NASK-PIB), who are the project coordinators, the Netherlands (Koninklijke Visio), and Ireland (DCU).