As the 2014-2015 school year ended, more than 50 students with visual impairments throughout the U.S. had used the AnimalWatch Vi Suite app and its accompanying materials. Dr. Rosenblum has been interviewing teachers and students who have enthusiastically shared their experiences this school year. Almost every student reported that they prefer using the app and accompanying materials over completing the word problems in print or braille without the app. What do they specifically like about the app? First and foremost are the hints that help them know how to solve the problems. Next, the students with low vision report using the build-in scratch pad is awesome, and we often hear that learning about the animal, especially the sound it makes, is motivating.
Teachers report that students are more independent with the app and accompanying materials than they are when doing the math problems in print or braille. Everyone agrees the graphics are of high quality and students can easily find what they need in them. Several teachers have also shared unexpected benefits for students who have participated in the study including increased self-esteem, more interest in math, willingness to participate in discussions in math class, and increased technology skills. In the months to come our project team will be analyzing the data. Check back this summer for a sneak peek!