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New Science Access Tools for Students with Blindness or Low Vision

Two access technology companies are collaborating to develop new tools to meet the needs of people with blindness or low vision. The two firms, Independence Science and ViewPlus Technologies, plan to develop “a working prototype of a new STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) education product.” They will be working with a team of blind scientists to “inform product development road maps.” Both companies were founded by blind scientists, who know from their own experiences how important inclusive access is to tools and techniques for the visualization of data. In describing the project, Mike Hingson from Independence Sciences noted that “’It is these collaborative efforts between technology firms that leverage one strength with another to drive innovation to its furthest potential. We will develop products that blind people want.’” Dan Gardner, CEO of ViewPlus Technologies, added “’We look forward to making STEM more accessible for all through this collaboration and ushering in a day when everyone can participate equally in STEM subjects in an inclusive way.’” ViewPlus Technologies has experience in developing technology that can produce multi-dot height, tactile graphic input, and braille on the same page. This combination of output modalities makes it possible for people to work together, regardless of their level of vision. Independent Science has designed products making equipment for STEM laboratories more inclusive. One example is their Talking LabQuest, which provides users with graphics information two ways: through sonification, which offers auditory access, and through transmission to their braille embosser product line. Read more about the collaboration on the Purdue University webpage in an article describing how Independence Science and ViewPlus Technologies partner to create science access tools for students who experience blindness or low vision.