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Project aims to help visually impaired learners
The Royal National College for the Blind (RNC) says it is making exciting progress towards transforming the way learners who are visually impaired can access graphical information.
The College is working on a European project which aims to increase accessibility to education for people who are blind, partially sighted or have difficulty with the written word.
The AHVIIT - ACCESS (Audio Haptics for Visually Impaired Information Technology) project, aims to develop pilot materials and an online training programme that uses multi-sensory learning stimuli to deliver vocational training to people who are visually impaired.
RNC has partners in Germany, Greece, Ireland and the Netherlands in the project which has been granted £328,000 from the European Union's Leonardo fund.
Chris Stevenson, business development manager at RNC, said: "The need for research into this is clear - practically every academic and vocational subject taught contains a varying degree of graphical data, from maps and pictures, to graphs and charts.
"For a sighted person this creates no problem, for someone without sight these graphical images are simply not accessible. This imbalance needs to be addressed and through this funding we aim to be able to achieve this."
RNC says three pilot sets of course materials, each based on a new pedagogical system of 'Talking Tactiles', will be created and evaluated. Each set will contain a significant element of visual graphics and are based around the programme areas of sports massage, food hygiene and basic cookery skills, and basic computer awareness and operation. In addition, the project is aiming to produce an online teacher training module for the use of talking tactiles and the design of talking tactile overlays.
RNC believes there could be up to 9 million people in the EU who at some stage in their life could benefit from this project, in education, in vocational training or for recreational purposes.
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