Alchemie’s interactive learning tools are designed as accessible-first to create a more inclusive learning experience for all users.
Each digital interactive is accompanied by a system called Kasi, which is Finnish for "hand" and allows users to control the digital interactive with physical manipulatives that are recognized by Computer Visions (CV) and provide feedback using audio Augmented Reality (AR).
This project is grounded by the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) approach of eliminating systemic barriers to success by using multiple means for “engagement, representation, and action” in learning.
Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) programs from the Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences (IES) and the National Institute on Disability, Independent Learning, and Rehabilitation Institute (NIDILRR) have supported the development and research of Kasi for students with blindness or low vision.
Designing Kasi has been guided by our pillars of creating accessible learning tools:
Rather than trying to add in an accessibility feature to a digital interactive as an after-thought, accessibility is at the forefront during the entire design process.
Consider users having differing abilities, as opposed to “disabilities.” Cognition is enhanced through multiple representations, be it through sight, sound, or touch or a combination of senses.
One of our favorite quotes is “impaired vision does not necessarily preclude our faculties to visualize.”* Once you embrace this quote you see that all students have the potential to succeed and our job as educators is to give them the tools necessary to make it possible.
Embrace the quote above a little bit more. You can shift your mindset from making “special tools” for “special education” to making tools that are inclusive and truly allow for equal treatment of all students.
You can’t close your eyes, pretend to be blind and think you’ll make a truly accessible product. Bring in differently abled users early on to test the product as it is being created and refine iteratively with additional feedback.
If you are interested in participating or staying informed about our research of Kasi, sign up here!