Northern Ireland

New technology platform to help visually impaired children learn maths

Dr Dónal Fitzpatrick
Dr Dónal Fitzpatrick Dr Dónal Fitzpatrick

RESEARCHERS at Dublin City University have created a first-of-its-kind platform to improve how mathematics is taught to blind and visually impaired students.

The technology, currently a working prototype, enables a teacher to prepare maths in the usual printed notation, and to present this to a student in Braille - and vice versa.

In an era where online learning is proving so important, this offers teachers and students alike the opportunity to use this innovative solution remotely as well as in-class.

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.

Dr Dónal Fitzpatrick, Assistant Professor in DCU's School of Computing, is working with partners in Poland and the Netherlands on this platform.

"This is hugely important for children and the Irish education system," Dr Fitzpatrick said.

"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."