Massachusetts Institute of Technology



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Low-cost Curriculum for the Blind

IDEAS Competition & People's Choice

Low-cost Curriculum for the Blind

Competition Year: 2011


Summary
Our goal is to design a low-cost math and science curriculum for blind children in developing countries, using cheaply available materials, with an emphasis on adaptability to local environments at home and in school.

Categories
Education and Training

  • Team Members
  • V. Zhang
  • L. Awad
  • N. Doukmak
  • N. Jreige
  • J. yazbek
  • S. Minkara
  • Y. Chung
  • S. Bolla


Quick Links


Our Pitch

Integration of the blind community is a largely overlooked problem in many developing countries. Especially among blind children of school-going age, the social stigma is that their disability will make it impossible for them to excel academically and socially. Add to this the sore lack of resources and prohibitively high prices of assistive technology, and it is not hard to understand why these children are discouraged from going to school. Few of those that do manage to enter to formal education system go on to pursue higher-level education or enter fields like mathematics and sciences. Therefore, there is an urgent need for science and mathematics curriculums that are accessible to both blind and sighted children, as well as inexpensive alternatives to the high-tech teaching aids that use materials cheaply available in developing countries. Our project aims to develop such a curriculum for children of elementary and middle school age, when skills acquisition is at its peak. This will level the playing ground for blind children and integrate them with their sighted counterparts. In addition to keeping material costs to a minimum, the curriculum will also be designed to be easily adaptable and widely-circulatable, so that children who cannot go to school can also benefit, and teachers or parents with valuable experiences to share can also add to the ever-growing store of knowledge.


Impact

Increase accessibility of math and science education for blind students in elementary and middle schools in Lebanon and other developing nations around the world.

Who We Are

Sara Minkara is a Lebanese American and has been legally blind since she was 7 years old. A senior in mathematics and economics who returns to Lebanon each summer, Sara always dreamed of bringing back the tools and skills she learns in the US to the children in Lebanon. She started Camp Rafiqi, a summer camp for blind children, in Tripoli in 2009 and has since expended this into a Boston-based non-profit organization that focuses on continuing and spreading these camps to other developing countries. Her familiarity with the local blind culture is essential in directing and shaping this project.

Lana Awad is a senior in biological engineering. She minors in applied international studies and political science and is very interested in working on global health problems. She co-founded an IDEAS initiative in 2009 to alleviate malnourishment problems. She was also the lead organizer of the Arab Admissions Mentorship Program, which aims to help students in the Arab world get better higher education. She will be helping with setting up the pilot and translating the curriculum into Arabic.

Vanessa Zhang is a senior in mathematics and economics. She has a strong passion for working with children and has volunteered with children and disabled adults on a long-term basis. Her primary focus will be in developing the math curriculum.

John Yazbek is a sophomore studying chemical and biological engineering. He was born and raised in Lebanon and came to the US two years ago to study at MIT. While in Lebanon, he was a volunteer medic in the Lebanese Red Cross. Through his experiences, he has noticed the needs of many people in developing countries can be largely overlooked and that little is being done to change that. He believes our idea is a great chance to induce major changes in the lives of blind people in developing countries.

Nina Jreige is a sophomore at MIT majoring in biological engineering. Since high school, she has enjoyed tutoring and aiding younger students. She will be working on designing and testing educational tools using cost-effective materials to be used in the math and science curricula.

Noor Doukmak is a freshman majoring in mathematics with a strong interest in education. She has enjoyed tutoring students in the areas of math and science in the past, and she hopes to continue to be involved in math instruction in the future. Her work on developing the team’s math curriculum incorporates her enthusiasm for math education and instruction.

Yoo Jin Chung is a senior in architecture from Wellesley, minoring in art history. She has always been keenly interested in working with children, and she has teaching experiences with children in various settings outside of school. She has been involved in developing one-on-one home schooling curricula for children with disabilities. Her interest in designing art that engages all of the senses will provide the backbone of the curriculum. She will also be helping develop the program for the camp instructors' training.

Srikanth Bolla is currently a junior at MIT majoring in management science. He is from a small rural costal village, Sitaramapuram, in southern India and was born blind. He struggled to overcome discrimination from community members, excelling in academics, extracurricular activities, and sports. In spite of rejections from government and high schools, he, with the help of his mentor, managed to study science subjects and became the first student from his state after six months of struggle in getting permission from the state government and education board. Srikanth’s passion towards community service made him join “Lead India 2020,” the second national youth movement in India which aims to motivate and guide rural youth to achieve their career goals and contribute for national development. He was appreciated by the former president of India Dr A.P.J Abdul Kalam for his outstanding service in motivating and guiding youth and for his leadership skills in managing people as part of lead India. Determined to help blind people learn about available technology, get educational materials, and receive guidance, Srikanth started a computer training center for visually challenged students in January 2010 and then a talking digital library in July 2011. He is a member of an NGO in India, Samanvai, which is operating projects to serve multi disabled students. [www.samanvai.org] Srikanth is excited to be part of the Low Cost Curriculum for the Blind project and helping in developing accessible science and math curricula which help blind students overcome their challenges in these subjects. He hopes to use his own story and experiences to develop the project and inspire blind students to aim high and work hard to achieve their career goals. Srikanth’s professional goal is to start a technology firm that manufactures assistive technology products for people with multiple disabilities with innovative features and good quality but in an affordable range. He also wants to provide employment to skilled rural youth and disable people. His lifetime ambition is to become the president of India to serve the country.

Our Community Partner

Partner Name

Empowerment Through Integration

Location

Boston, Lebanon (expanding to Ghana)

Description

ETI provides educational and recreational programs for blind students to become fully integrated and productive members of society. In accomplishing this mission, ETI provides summer camps that include both blind and sighted children and resource libraries that provide adaptive technologies. These programs instill self-confidence and self-sufficiency, and promote equal access to education. ETI will also advocate for job opportunities and disability rights with the government and corporate sectors.


Location:

  • Service Location
    Lebanon
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Comments and Support

  • Chester Creek has large-key keyboards and braille stickers for kids who may be losing their site, or for those with speaking software installed on their computers. Makes learning and/or communicating much easier. Frankly, we decided a long time ago that computers should be accessible to everyone, especially kids who have so much to offer, yet are often discriminated against. check out: www.chestercreek.com

    Posted by Kathryn Pomroy on Mon, May 9th 2011, 16:59 Report Abuse


  • Keep up the good work.

    Posted by A. Jackson on Wed, May 4th 2011, 16:47 Report Abuse


  • Good Work! Wonderful!

    Posted by S. Lim on Tue, Apr 26th 2011, 19:05 Report Abuse


  • keep up the good work.

    Posted by aliha on Tue, Apr 26th 2011, 17:32 Report Abuse


  • This is wonderful!

    Posted by Marielle Costanza on Tue, Apr 26th 2011, 13:01 Report Abuse


  • Best of Luck

    Posted by Tairah Firdous on Tue, Apr 26th 2011, 08:08 Report Abuse


  • Great Project, good luck !!

    Posted by J. El Ajaltouni on Mon, Apr 25th 2011, 22:20 Report Abuse


  • Woho. When will see this in action

    Posted by S. Said on Mon, Apr 25th 2011, 21:13 Report Abuse


  • Keep up this futuristic work

    Posted by Samy on Mon, Apr 25th 2011, 21:01 Report Abuse


  • Best of luck to all of you, if you guys need help of any kind in electrical engineering let me know :) my email is fadlallah87@gmail.com . Mohammed Fadlallah

    Posted by Mohammed Fadlallah on Mon, Apr 25th 2011, 20:35 Report Abuse


  • Excellent idea. May ALLAH SWT accepts from you

    Posted by zahra hailoul on Mon, Apr 25th 2011, 18:21 Report Abuse


  • great idea. May ALLAH SWT accepts from you

    Posted by zahra hailoul on Mon, Apr 25th 2011, 18:20 Report Abuse


  • Goood Luck NOUR.....wish u all the BEST :D:D

    Posted by R. Chorbaji on Mon, Apr 25th 2011, 17:25 Report Abuse


  • Good Luck Noor We Wish You The Best :)

    Posted by D. Chorbaji on Mon, Apr 25th 2011, 16:59 Report Abuse


  • Good Luck Noor We Wish the best :)

    Posted by D. Chorbaji on Mon, Apr 25th 2011, 16:58 Report Abuse


  • Good Luck ! wish you all the best .

    Posted by H. Al Daawi on Mon, Apr 25th 2011, 16:32 Report Abuse


  • Good Luck.... Hope your group will win :) Nice Idea .. !!

    Posted by A. Shurbaji on Mon, Apr 25th 2011, 15:49 Report Abuse


  • go lana nice idea and good luck .....

    Posted by durra bakhit on Mon, Apr 25th 2011, 15:40 Report Abuse


  • nice idea >>>

    Posted by MHD Izzat bakhit on Mon, Apr 25th 2011, 15:38 Report Abuse


  • god protect you

    Posted by rania al-mahrous on Mon, Apr 25th 2011, 15:34 Report Abuse


  • go ahead lanaaaaaa

    Posted by massa bakhit on Mon, Apr 25th 2011, 15:31 Report Abuse


  • GO LANAAA ! ! !

    Posted by Yara Awad on Mon, Apr 25th 2011, 12:06 Report Abuse


  • Great idea!! good luck!!

    Posted by J. Lee on Sun, Apr 24th 2011, 18:57 Report Abuse


  • Totally in support.

    Posted by Amjad Taufique on Sun, Apr 24th 2011, 17:25 Report Abuse


  • good luck!!

    Posted by D. Hui on Sun, Apr 24th 2011, 14:35 Report Abuse


  • Proud of you Noor and your Team .. Good Luck

    Posted by Oubay Akil on Sun, Apr 24th 2011, 11:35 Report Abuse


  • We are proud of you, Noor. We wish you and your colleagues in the team the best . We call on everybody to vote in favor of your team. This project is really for a good cause. GOOD LUCK ......

    Posted by R. Rabbat on Sun, Apr 24th 2011, 09:43 Report Abuse


  • HI , GOD BLESS YOU GUYS , AM SUPPORTING YOU , GO FOR IT + INCHALLAH YOU WILL REACH YOUR TARGET

    Posted by M.Shurbaji on Sun, Apr 24th 2011, 04:45 Report Abuse


  • good Skill, Noor and all!

    Posted by Creighton Cutts on Sat, Apr 23rd 2011, 23:26 Report Abuse


  • Good Skill, Noor, et. all.

    Posted by Creighton Cutts on Sat, Apr 23rd 2011, 23:24 Report Abuse


  • GOOD LUCK

    Posted by Valentina Najjar on Thu, Apr 21st 2011, 10:36 Report Abuse


  • Support you! GOod luck :)

    Posted by Soo Jin Huh on Wed, Apr 20th 2011, 23:35 Report Abuse


  • God Bless and Good Luck!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Posted by J. Najjar on Wed, Apr 20th 2011, 18:39 Report Abuse


  • Good luck guys!

    Posted by Wassim G on Wed, Apr 20th 2011, 18:11 Report Abuse


  • Thank you all. I am from Sierra Leone in West Africa. I was a maths teacher at the Prince of Wales School in Freetown. I came to this site through one of my students I taught at Junior Secondary School level. He is David Sengeh and he is with you at MIT. I am with you and prepared to present online lessons in maths if required.

    Posted by O. Koroma on Wed, Apr 20th 2011, 12:29 Report Abuse


  • Best of luck guys. This is amazing!

    Posted by N. Abi-Esber on Wed, Apr 20th 2011, 06:43 Report Abuse


  • I wish you all the best, Noor and the whole team. We are so proud of you to initiate such a project.

    Posted by R. Kahaleh on Wed, Apr 20th 2011, 00:28 Report Abuse


  • Good Luck

    Posted by M. Abdallah on Tue, Apr 19th 2011, 17:00 Report Abuse


  • Best of luck guys!! Special regards to John Yazbek :))

    Posted by J. MELHEM on Tue, Apr 19th 2011, 14:14 Report Abuse


  • Good luck!!!!

    Posted by Paulette Salloum on Tue, Apr 19th 2011, 14:14 Report Abuse


  • its a great idea , good luck we supporting you all the time , I hope i can help you

    Posted by nada on Tue, Apr 19th 2011, 12:27 Report Abuse


  • its a great idea , good luck we supporting you all the time , I hope i can help you

    Posted by nada on Tue, Apr 19th 2011, 12:23 Report Abuse


  • You have all my love, support, and respect for this venture. Your project is truly an inspiration to us all. God bless, and best of luck! You've my vote all the way .

    Posted by L. Tash on Tue, Apr 19th 2011, 07:20 Report Abuse


  • Good Luck Nina..All the Best. Let me know if I can be of any help (Math or Physics)

    Posted by g. nicolas on Mon, Apr 18th 2011, 23:48 Report Abuse


  • Great project! With 6 children and one special needs child, this is dear to my heart. Best of luck to all of you! Gina

    Posted by G. Picozzi-Roulston on Mon, Apr 18th 2011, 19:47 Report Abuse


  • Best of luck!

    Posted by M.Chun on Mon, Apr 18th 2011, 17:25 Report Abuse


  • Good luck

    Posted by T. Abdelalim on Mon, Apr 18th 2011, 15:43 Report Abuse


  • Good Luck, wish you all the success in your project!

    Posted by Zeina Al-Khani on Mon, Apr 18th 2011, 12:13 Report Abuse


  • Very worthy project, Noor. Glad to see you guys interested in developing a project with such strong social conciousness. Valerie Aldridge

    Posted by Valerie Aldridge on Mon, Apr 18th 2011, 11:58 Report Abuse


  • Good Luck and hope this project is sucess !

    Posted by Jasper Goh on Mon, Apr 18th 2011, 10:36 Report Abuse


  • Good luck guys

    Posted by Roger on Mon, Apr 18th 2011, 00:41 Report Abuse


  • Good Luck

    Posted by Jad El cham on Sun, Apr 17th 2011, 05:47 Report Abuse


  • Good luck

    Posted by s. zaghloul on Sat, Apr 16th 2011, 21:44 Report Abuse


  • Good Luck!!!

    Posted by J. Awad on Sat, Apr 16th 2011, 19:38 Report Abuse


  • Good luck on your noble project :)

    Posted by A. TANNOUS on Sat, Apr 16th 2011, 18:20 Report Abuse


  • Good luck to NINA JREIGE AND THE WHOLE TEAM!!!!!!!!!!!!! I will spread the word :) BEST OF LUCK:) LOVE SALAM DAABOUL

    Posted by s. daaboul on Wed, Apr 13th 2011, 22:15 Report Abuse


  • Best of luck with the project!

    Posted by K. Samara on Wed, Apr 13th 2011, 22:09 Report Abuse


  • good luck !!!!!!!!!!!NIck Daaboul :)

    Posted by h. daaboul on Wed, Apr 13th 2011, 22:02 Report Abuse


  • So proud of our young generation who wants and is willing to help in such causes. Please keep us posted of any new development and wishing you all the best. May God Grant You Many Years!

    Posted by Zeina Kahhale on Wed, Apr 13th 2011, 18:44 Report Abuse


  • Fantastic project!

    Posted by A. Khan on Wed, Apr 13th 2011, 17:56 Report Abuse


  • For the right cause i stand. You have my fully fledged support for this is a noble cause.

    Posted by Kalule Brian Kasule on Wed, Apr 13th 2011, 05:01 Report Abuse


  • A very thoughtful project! All the best!!

    Posted by S. Kwaider on Wed, Apr 13th 2011, 04:03 Report Abuse


  • Very promising. Good luck .

    Posted by F. Shoorbajee on Tue, Apr 12th 2011, 23:36 Report Abuse


  • Best of luck Folks!

    Posted by A. Yin on Tue, Apr 12th 2011, 11:27 Report Abuse


  • Gd luck jhon

    Posted by Emile saadeh on Tue, Apr 12th 2011, 10:15 Report Abuse


  • Good luck! Keep up the good work.

    Posted by S. Siyam on Tue, Apr 12th 2011, 09:47 Report Abuse


  • good luck

    Posted by zeina yazbeck on Mon, Apr 11th 2011, 14:40 Report Abuse


  • Great project to strength your grad. application further more. Very unique project Educational needs for children facing physical and economical challenges. great opportunity Nina. Good luck my full support to you and your team.

    Posted by Hakim,Hasna on Sun, Apr 10th 2011, 21:05 Report Abuse


  • Way to go... your understaning of the special need students and their education will make this projecgt be fullfilled.

    Posted by Sam on Sun, Apr 10th 2011, 14:51 Report Abuse


  • Keep up the good work

    Posted by Sam Ninkar on Sun, Apr 10th 2011, 14:49 Report Abuse


  • Excellent project. Superb cause. Keep up the good work. Your amazing touch for this education program will make it feasible for thousands of disable students progress in life.

    Posted by Samer on Sun, Apr 10th 2011, 14:49 Report Abuse


  • Good cause. Greate challenge, you are doing something uniqe and creative. Good luck

    Posted by Tony Saroufim on Sun, Apr 10th 2011, 10:25 Report Abuse


  • Great cause - May God grant you success and much reward!

    Posted by Azza on Sat, Apr 9th 2011, 15:56 Report Abuse


  • Please send me more information about the tools and means that your team is developing for teaching math and science to school aged children

    Posted by Joe Savitzky on Sat, Apr 9th 2011, 13:47 Report Abuse


  • Please send me more information about the tools and means that your team is developing for teaching math and science to school aged children

    Posted by Joe Savitzky on Sat, Apr 9th 2011, 13:46 Report Abuse


  • Great project amazing work, hope to reach your goal! good luck for all.

    Posted by Eman Kilani on Sat, Apr 9th 2011, 09:37 Report Abuse


  • This is a great project and deserves all the support it needs for its prosperity and accomplish its signnificant mission towards the equity and inclusion of blind children in Lebanese mainstream educational programs and the society at large.

    Posted by Sylvana Lakkis on Sat, Apr 9th 2011, 06:50 Report Abuse


  • Great idea, good luck to all of you!!

    Posted by C. Mhanna on Sat, Apr 9th 2011, 06:46 Report Abuse


  • An added skill is an added value! I wish you all the best in your project. Good luck!

    Posted by Reem Sawaf on Sat, Apr 9th 2011, 06:35 Report Abuse


  • This is an amazing and inspiring project. It will help making the dream of many blind children in Lebanon to be recognized by their society. This project will challenge the stereotype that blind people cannot study math and science. By allowing this great and important project to grow in Lebanon, blind children can have the hope to expand their prosperities. Studying manth and science in inclusive schools for blind children is their right. To support this significant project means to support this right.

    Posted by Mohammed Ali loutfy on Sat, Apr 9th 2011, 04:05 Report Abuse


  • Good luck!

    Posted by Rebeka Oross on Sat, Apr 9th 2011, 03:40 Report Abuse


  • this is an amazing idea. Good luck

    Posted by Rutarama ambrose on Fri, Apr 8th 2011, 14:21 Report Abuse


  • Good luck. This is a great project. Wish you all the best.

    Posted by Wael Doukmak on Fri, Apr 8th 2011, 12:12 Report Abuse


  • Hullo, I would love to join your team so much I am a computer science student at Makerere University in Uganda in my second year, I have passion for kids, i enjoy playing with them and i would do anything to see that a kid is comfortable, especially those that are underprivileged. I believe that i can use my skills and would make them better with some prior training. My name is Norman Ainobushobrozi. nainobushoborozi@cit.mak.ac.ug is my email address.

    Posted by N. Ainobushoborozi on Thu, Apr 7th 2011, 19:29 Report Abuse


  • good luck all

    Posted by l. arabieh on Thu, Apr 7th 2011, 15:54 Report Abuse


  • Good luck!

    Posted by Lina Heraiki on Thu, Apr 7th 2011, 14:29 Report Abuse


  • Good luck!

    Posted by L. E on Thu, Apr 7th 2011, 13:45 Report Abuse


  • im supporting u guys

    Posted by Zeina Yazbeck on Thu, Apr 7th 2011, 09:01 Report Abuse


  • we are supporting you

    Posted by rayan on Thu, Apr 7th 2011, 02:49 Report Abuse


  • -

    Posted by Sachi Shah on Wed, Apr 6th 2011, 21:35 Report Abuse


  • Hi, I would like to help you guys. I have been working for education of blind people through different assistive technologies. I have developed few devices for blind community, you can find me at http://www.dellsocialinnovationcompetition.com/Educational and social networking tool for blind community. I do understand the problem, and the difference between the methods of education. Just provide me with the more details to get started with the project if you wish. My name is Rajesh Mane. http://www.linkedin.com/pub/rajesh-mane/21/854/81b rjshmn123@gmail.com

    Posted by R. Mane on Sat, Mar 5th 2011, 18:28 Report Abuse


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