Skip to main content

Software Helps Blind Student Learn Physics

Physics can be very difficult to learn, but imagine how much harder it would be if your textbook had numerous errors and typos. For Amanda Lacy—a computer-science major at Austin Community College—an inadequate digital textbook almost made her drop out of her physics class. With the help of a dedicated professor and some new computer software,however, she earned an A in the class and regained her enthusiasm for physics according to a recent article from the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Image Courtesy Christophe Moustier.

The textbook that the college provided had audio and braille accompaniments so that Lacy could understand the material. But the textbook couldn't relay many of the equations accurately. For instance, the textbook couldn't express simple mathematical terms like exponents, making it extremely difficult to understand the formulas.

Lacy's professor, Richard Baldwin, realized how much trouble she was having and began spending time with her going over homework problems. During his time working with Lacy, Baldwin started developing an online module that can discern physical and mathematical symbols, supplementing a traditional digital textbook for the blind.

Baldwin didn't stop there, though. He also created a drawing program that allows blind students to better understand conceptual problems. Lacy, for example, was often allowed to skip homework problems that required a sketch. Now she can do those problems much more easily on the computer, and she hopes to be able to turn in full homework sets for her next class like everyone else.

For the full story, take a look at the Chronicle article.

You can find the online modules here, and the drawing program can be downloaded from Baldwin's site.


Popular Posts

How 4,000 Physicists Gave a Vegas Casino its Worst Week Ever

What happens when several thousand distinguished physicists, researchers, and students descend on the nation’s gambling capital for a conference? The answer is "a bad week for the casino"—but you'd never guess why.

Ask a Physicist: Phone Flash Sharpie Shock!

Lexie and Xavier, from Orlando, FL want to know:
"What's going on in this video? Our science teacher claims that the pain comes from a small electrical shock, but we believe that this is due to the absorption of light. Please help us resolve this dispute!"

The Science of Ice Cream: Part One

Even though it's been a warm couple of months already, it's officially summer. A delicious, science-filled way to beat the heat? Making homemade ice cream.

(We've since updated this article to include the science behind vegan ice cream. To learn more about ice cream science, check out The Science of Ice Cream, Redux)

Over at Physics@Home there's an easy recipe for homemade ice cream. But what kind of milk should you use to make ice cream? And do you really need to chill the ice cream base before making it? Why do ice cream recipes always call for salt on ice?