Engaging Visually Disabled Students in Science

Blind Sighted: A Pilot Project to Engage Visually Disabled Students in Science

It is a truism to state that people learn in different ways, but there is more than one way to interpret this statement. For example, in general students learn best when teaching each other, as opposed to listening to a person lecture. That is another way of saying that active learning is more effective than a passive approach. Furthermore, even with active learning there are multiple modes of presentation that can be considered. Along these lines, a multimedia approach may have advantages because the stimulation of multiple channels of the brain may facilitate the transfer of information into long-term memory. For this reason, I have started to include music, art and even dance into my research presentations and classroom instruction. The potential impact of this format was dramatically pointed out after a research seminar, when a legally blind student told me about the benefits he experienced from having been able to listen to musical representations of my topic. This led to a further discussion about ways to expand on this methodology, incorporating tactile aspects into the presentation. The goal of this proposal is to develop a simple handout that will incorporate tactile stimulation to assist with learning about a subcellular pathway. This pilot project may be beneficial to students with visual impairment, but also to a general audience because of the unique nature of the mechanism of information delivery.

Project Team:

Daniel Klionsky, Research Professor of Life Sciences, Life Sciences Institute