With support from the U.S. Department of Education's Institute of Education Science (IES), we are creating a version of AnimalWatch that will be accessible to students with mild, moderate or severe visual impairments. Features will include options to adjust the screen for optimal viewing and to access content via audio files, as well as supplemental materials such as braille, large print and tactile (embossed) graphics. Project partners include the Arizona Schools for the Deaf and Blind, and other programs around the country. More information about the AnimalWatch-VI Suite.
The IES project builds on an earlier project supported by the National Science Foundation (HRD 0725917/0940201). We developed a version of AnimalWatch that uses text-to-speech software to make math word problems available in audio format. Students learn to use the keyboard commands in a brief tutorial. They can listen to the word problems, replay them as often as they wish, and listen to hints about how to solve the problems. Check out the screencast videos below!
The program was self-voicing, so students did not have to use screen reader software (which can be expensive for schools to buy and is often difficult to maintain).
In Spring 2010, we field-tested the AnimalWatch-VI program with students in Arizona. Students liked the connection of math with science, and they liked being able to direct their own learning by using the keyboard to control the program. The encouraging pilot results helped us to make the case for additional support to continue the project.
UA News article about the project
Poster presented at the National Science Foundation Joint Annual Meeting (JAM) June 2010 in Washington DC