Cultivating New Relationships to Digital Assistive Technologies

Jan. 1, 2003


Rahul Bhargava


Blind and visually impaired people have intimate relationships with the digital assistive technologies that they rely on for carrying out their everyday tasks, but have no tools for designing and creating their own such devices. This paper documents the adaptation and extension of an existing computational construction kit, enabling visually impaired learners to write programs to control a Programmable Brick - a microcomputer that can then interact with the world via sensors, speech synthesis and numerous other actuators. Using an initial technology implementation, a series of activities were carried out with a small group of visually impaired teenagers. A case study is presented to highlight specific domains of knowledge that were discovered to be especially relevant for this community. Reflections from this initial study are presented in hopes of changing how visually impaired children are encouraged to relate to digital assistive technologies.

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