A new dawn for the visually impaired as STEM subjects become a reality for them

Visually impaired students have historically faced significant challenges in pursuing science and mathematics in primary school, technology and engineering in secondary school, and tertiary education. This is because visual information has not been widely made available in a format that is easily accessible to blind and VI students.

Most visually impaired students have cognitive abilities comparable to their sighted peers, but there appears to be a significant gap between teachers' beliefs about students' abilities and instructional resources available to help these students realize their full potential. There is evidence that students with disabilities are frequently denied the same opportunities to explore fields such as physics, mathematics, chemistry, and engineering because special education teachers frequently lack knowledge about the science curriculum and content.

Through the use of Scientific graphing talking calculators, Kilimanjaro Blind Trust Africa aims to improve mentoring for 250 VI learners so they can specialize in STEM courses from the early stages of secondary education. With the Orion TI-84 Plus Talking Graphing Calculator, a person with visual impairments can engage with the TI-84 Plus utilizing speech, audio, and haptic (vibration) feedback.

The little attachment is mounted to the top of the calculator. Each keypress and all text and symbol information on the LCD panel are read out by the high-quality synthesized speech.

The pilot program to provide the Orion TI 84 Calculators has been rolled out in Likoni High School, Moi Girls Nairobi, Nicco Hausser secondary and Kibos Special Secondary School. The STEM approach aims to foster creativity and divergent thinking alongside fundamental disciplines and to allow visually impaired learners to gain skills that make them more employable and ready to meet the current labor demand in an environment full of high-tech innovations.

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