The SU-network (ICCHP Summer University for Visually Impaired on Accessibility of Math, Science and Statistics) is intended to improve the overall knowledge about access to mathematical contents by visually impaired people, by improving their awareness of existing technologies, by stimulating research and by confronting teaching methods.
This is highly needed in a time where learning conditions for blind and visually impaired pupils are under pressure (see wikiblind article). Only very few students succeed in mathematics or areas where the use of Mathematics is an issue, as it is in Sciences and Statistics.
We believe that there is no reason that Mathematical semantics can not be understood because of blindness. On the contrary we think that the biggest barrier is in the access to Mathematical content for print disabilities.
Modern education requires efficient use of the computer and presupposes students to both work independently and cooperate in groups, working on projects. Solutions for teaching and using the computer with the help of assistive technology are available, but often unknown to - and difficult to find for - those who need them. International cooperation in a network can greatly improve this situation. The following people participate in this network:
- expert users (students);
- teachers - and people supporting, training or informing teachers in schools and universities;
- people preparing learning and teaching materials in schools and universities;
- researchers, developers, both from universities and (highly specialized) companies.
People in the network exchange solutions for the challenges they face. Many challenges however are waiting for (better) solutions. That is why researchers and developers participate in this network; both to share their knowledge and to get input for research and feedback from (potential) users.
A network can only be successful when people meet on a regular basis – during the yearly ICCHP Summer University - and has good communication means – of which this website is the core.
Strategic objectives of the SU-network
- Be a resource for VI students and the colleges and universities where they study (including late phase secondary education);
- Making mathematics, sciences and statistic more easily accessible for blind students;
- Meet with the research world.
Operational objectives of the SU-network
- Organize a yearly Summer University:
- Proposing a selection of hands-on workshops for Visually Impaired students dealing with the latest assistive technologies in the field of mathematical, scientific, and statistical contents for visually impaired people.
- Allowing students to work with the technology. The workshops are not just demonstrations and they are not intended to be only based "on the manual", they propose real and challenging exercises. The workshops are presented by expert users or teachers, or by researchers/developers who are interested in valuable end user feedback.
- Offering teachers, teachers who train teachers and people adapting learning and teaching materials an overview of the latest existing assistive technologies dealing with mathematical, scientific, and statistical contents to visually impaired students on late secondary school and on university level, as well to their teachers and pedagogues, and to provide them with some practical training.
- Offering an opportunity to share experiences in teaching math, science and statistics to the visually impaired, by organizing meetings, panels, etc.
- Offering researchers time slots where they can conduct some research activities, evaluation of prototypes, or demonstrations, or brainstorming activities. Every two years the SU is organized at the same time and location as the ICCHP conference. The program allows the SU participants to attend a selection of Conference sessions and allows researchers to attend Summer University.
- Giving the opportunity to test, evaluate and improve learning and teaching material set up for the workshops about technologies, curriculum, exercises, tutorials, etc. This material can be used by the students after they attended the SU, by teachers who need to teach a specific technology in another situation, or by any other similar initiative.
- Creating social links between the participants in order to stimulate discussions and cooperation.
- All year around:
- Maintain a collaborative website with information about Assistive Technology for access to Maths, teaching methods or strategies and the Summer Universities
- Stimulate the research in this area.
- Organize discussions : technical and pedagogical forums, the results of which will be assembled at wikiblind.org.
- Create teaching material for the summer university.
- Maintain a repository of teaching material.