UMaine researchers hope grant helps visually impaired students learning

ORONO, ME (WABI) - Educators at the University of Maine hope a recently received grant will be a game changer for the visually impaired.

The Virtual Environment and Multimodal Interaction Lab, was awarded a 750-thousand dollar grant from the National Science Foundation.

The money will continue work on a first of its kind learning platform that would give students who are blind or visually impaired access to STEM-related graphics.

The platform is being developed as an app that could be downloaded to a smart phone.

"My ultimate hope is that students that are in classrooms as their peers are looking at cell diagrams or looking at graphs or looking at maps, they'll have their phone, they'll be served up immediately where the professor or the teacher has on the PowerPoint right to their phone, and they'll be learning it right as their peers are," said Professor Nicholas Giudice.

The goal is that if all goes well, the technology can be developed to the point that within five years, it will be ready for commercial use.