TERC Receives NSF Grant for Engaging Blind Students in Geosciences

June 8, 2007

TERC received a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to make Earth science education more accessible to blind students. "With its major focus on visualizations, Earth science education presents formidable barriers to blind students," said Project Director Dan Barstow. The Engaging Blind Students in Geosciences program will enable blind students to experience inquiry-based learning of core concepts by using multi-modal delivery systems, including audio technology and dynamic tactile graphics.

This pilot program is focusing on weather forecasting, adapting real-time satellite, radar and surface weather analysis images to represent data as graphics on tactile paper. Specialized audio software will represent numerical trends, such as temperature and pressure data, as sonic graphs. TERC is also creating learning activities that make use of these resources.

The project is a collaboration between TERC, the National Federation of the Blind, the Johnson Space Center, and the Virginia Space Grant Consortium. Collectively, the partners have expertise in Earth science education, blind education, technology development and educational evaluation. The project will deliver these new technologies to 100 middle and high school students during field testing, and then to a wider audience through the National Center for Blind Youth in Science web site.