Without looking down, Kira runs her index finger across the screen of an Android tablet that she is holding in her lap. For the occasion, she has painted her fingernails bright pink. When her finger touches a line drawn on the screen, the tablet vibrates quietly. Scanning her finger back and forth and feeling the vibration come and go allows her to trace the line’s path.
When her finger reaches a pink dot, the tablet gives off an electronic tone and she grins delightedly.
Kira is one of two visually impaired high school students who are testing a new Android app, one designed to assist students like her in mastering algebra, geometry, graphing and other subjects that are particularly hard to comprehend without the aid of normal vision.
The app is the brainstorm of Jenna Gorlewicz, a graduate student in the Medical and Electromechanical Design Laboratory (MED Lab) at Vanderbilt University, and her adviser Robert Webster, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering, who directs the lab. Given the enthusiastic reaction of Kira, her classmate Quinn and their teacher, her innovation could have a major impact on how science, technology, engineering and math – the critical STEM subjects – are taught to the visually impaired. (» more)