Kelly Kerr is a teacher of students with visual impairments in the Central Kitsap School District located in Silverdale, Washington. Ms. Kerr wrote a proposal for an AccessSTEM Minigrant to support students with visual impairments who are underrepresented in careers in math and science. In her proposal she emphasized that students often fail to pursue math and science because of the lack of accessible curriculum, labs, and manipulatives in these courses. Ms. Kerr requested and received funds to purchase equipment that would increase access to science and math materials for her students with visual impairments.
In her funded project, Ms. Kerr used a laptop outfitted with an eBeam system, which, through a transmitter, picks-up what the teacher writes on the whiteboard with a modified pen and delivers it directly to the laptop screen at the student's desk. With additional screen magnification software on the laptop, students with low vision were able to access the printed information that they could only hear before. One student thought the eBeam system was magical. According to Ms. Kelly, he stated, "The whiteboard is on my desk!"
Use of this equipment is a promising practice in giving students with low vision immediate access to information a teacher is writing on the board. Such access to materials promotes increased participation in math and science classes, which may lead to increased numbers of students choosing to pursue math and science in higher education and careers.
For information on improving access for people with visual impairments consult the following DO-IT resources:
- Equal Access: Science and Students with Sensory Impairments - designing science education to maximize the learning of all students.
- Making Science Labs Accessible to Students with Disabilities - designing science labs so that all students can fully participate.
- The Winning Equation: Access + Attitude = Success in Math and Science - strategies for fully including students with disabilities in science and math activities.
- Working Together: Science Teachers and Students with Disabilities - legal issues, accommodation strategies, and resources that can be tailored to a specific institution by adding a campus resource list.
- Working Together: Computers and People with Sensory Impairments - people with visual and hearing impairments demonstrate computer technology for school and work.
- Search the DO-IT Knowledge Base - includes answers to common questions, case studies, and promising practices regarding accessibility of technology, college, graduate school, and careers for individuals with disabilities.
AccessSTEM mingrants were funded under The Alliance for Students with Disabilities in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (AccessSTEM, Research in Disabilities Education award # HRD-0227995).