Did you know that in 2018 there were 1.025 million blind children in the world? And that the educational development of every child is closely linked to the existence of a teacher? Because their condition requires constant direct interaction with a teacher, they are permanently tied to someone else’s guidance, being able to study only through 1:1 teaching. But here’s the Tactile Images READER App ready to change the paradigm and make the shift to 1:1.000.000.
You will find out how in this article.
c) How does it work?
1. 1:1 teaching for the blind
Visually-impaired children can’t study spatial information in groups. Their education is done 1:1, meaning that every child has to have his teacher to be able to assimilate visual information. They cannot see drawings on the blackboard as sighted ones can, so they have their own, personal drawings, called tactile graphics. Tactile graphics are made especially for the blind. The graphics represent simplified embossed drawings.
Let’s say that a teacher for the blind has ten students in a class. This means that he has to make ten tactile graphics, so every child has his own. The educational process during a Geography lesson looks like this: the blind child is handed an embossed tactile graphic of Europe’s map. The teacher then stays near him, takes the child’s hand in his own, and slowly guides it across the tactile graphic.
They stop at every country so the teacher can explain: this is Romania, „a country located at the crossroads of Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe. It borders on the Black Sea to the southeast, and with Bulgaria to the south, Ukraine to the north, Hungary to the west, Serbia to the southwest, and Moldova to the east.” Because this process is extremely lengthy, blind children will learn ten times slower than sighted ones.
2. The READER App or the specialist above the shoulder
The READER App is here to make all the time-consuming work of the specialist. It is a mobile software (iOS) meant to become the personal assistant of a blind child. It makes use of modern technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and Interactive Augmented Reality to register the user’s finger movement across tactile graphics and transmit information via voice-over.
We created the READER App to help blind children learn independently about a large variety of subjects. These are its main advantages:
- free of charge
- personal assistant
- easy to use
- 24/7 availability
- no waiting time
- independent study
- limitless subjects of study
- appropriate at any age
- specialized information
c) How does it work?
The READER App is very easy to use because it has no buttons. All the children will have to do is place a tactile graphic under the phone. It’s indicated to put the mobile phone on a gooseneck holder, especially if they study for an extended time, let’s say an hour-long class.
The children can explore the embossed tactile graphic with the index finger while listening to the beeps. Once a predefined area is reached, they will hear one beep. All they have to do is keep their finger still, and another three beeps will follow. Then, a vocal description will give them all the information a teacher would typically have to utter. In this way, it’s not only more comfortable for them to study in class, but they are also empowered to explore independently, wherever and whenever they want.
3. The future of the App
Right now, the Tactile Images READER App is at the Alpha stage. But we intend to continue its development. Because now, the App is available only for iPhones, our dream is to find financers to help us keep it free and make it available for Android as well. In this way, we would be able to reach all the blind children who have a smartphone and change not only their studying habits but their entire lives as well. If you want to help us revolutionize the world of the blind, you can support us here
4.The online LIBRARY for the blind
We did not only create a mobile App. We have also built an online LIBRARY with 800 tactile graphics and are currently working on enriching it with as many drawings as possible. Sighted people – be it, teachers, parents, or volunteers – can access it and download all the graphics they want free of charge. There are hundreds of tactile graphics on the educational platform tactileimages.org, and they are all anxious to help blind children learn about subjects such as animals, maps, paintings, and many others.
With the aid of the Tactile Images READER App, teaching for the blind can be switched from 1:1 to 1:1.000.000. All the visually-impaired children in the world can now download it for free and enjoy its benefits. As their virtual assistant, the App will talk to them, guide their hand on the tactile graphic, and give them all the information they need, just the way a teacher normally would.
Do you have questions regarding the READER App? Leave us your suggestions in the comment section below!