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**BREAKING DOWN THE BARRIERS OF SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING
USING ADAPTIVE TECHNOLOGY **

`Presenter #1 `

`Noel Romey `

`Ralph E. Martin Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Arkansas
`

`3202 Bell Engineering Center `

`Fayetteville AR 72701 `

`Day Phone: 479-575-4951 `

`Fax: 479-575-7926 `

`Email: ner@uark.edu `

`This`` presentation will give a visually
impaired graduate student’s insight into some of the barriers associated with
obtaining a degree in chemical engineering. Students and professionals
who rely on science, mathematics, and engineering (SME) may be interested in
the content and experiences presented. `

`(1) Ralph E. Martin Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Arkansas,
3202 Bell Engineering
Center, Fayetteville AR 72701. (2) Department of Chemical
Engineering, The University
of Akron, 404 Auburn Science and Engineering Center,
Akron OH
44325. (3)
Process Engineering, LLC., 700 S. Illinois Ave, Oak Ridge
TN 37830.
(4) Chemstations, Inc., 2901 Wilcrest Drive, Houston TX 77042. `

`This presentation will give a visually impaired graduate student’s insight
into some of the barriers associated with obtaining a degree in chemical
engineering. Students and professionals who rely on science, mathematics,
and engineering (SME) may be interested in the content and experiences
presented. `

`Before the advent of computers, many careers were not obviously available
to visually impaired students and professionals. Although Adaptive
Technology (AT) has increased accessibility for disabled individuals, in
general people are not familiar with both the limitations and capabilities of a
blind student in SME. In some cases, the obstacle is not technological:
rather, the limitation arises from or is compounded by teacher, peer, or student
knowledge. For example, many teachers do not understand Nemeth Code, so
it can be difficult and time-consuming for the teacher to read and prepare
homework. Additionally, peers and teachers who have a strong visual
component to their communication patterns require coaching to avoid the use of
vague language. With respect to AT, unique to visually impaired SME
students is the fact that “mainstream” screen reading programs overcome only
part of the difficulties associated with input and output when technical software
packages are used for complex calculations, algebraic manipulations, or
visualizations. Algebra and calculus pose other challenges. It may
take a student twice the time to manipulate an algebra or calculus problem than
his or her sighted counterparts mostly due to the limitations of doing
problems, typewriter style, on a Braille writer. While it is true that
programs exist for the manipulation of simple algebraic expressions, many times
the math component of a SME degree is far more complex than the software can
support. Research and development is also being done on voicing of
mathematical symbols, but capability for the voicing of complex scientific
formulae are either non-existent or in the embryonic stages of development. `

`Germane to the aforementioned is the pursuit of a Chemical Engineering (ChE) degree by a student who is visually impaired. ChE has been considered one of the “untouchable”
engineering disciplines, where students who tenuously consider [ChE] think erroneously that such a degree exclusively
results in a job attached to either a laboratory or chemical manufacturing
site. Such is not the case, for students who obtain degrees in ChE work in many fields including ChE
process design, medicine, and the practice of law to mention a few. Other
worries include the lack of availability of ChE
textbooks due to the skill required to create content using Nemeth Braille Code
and/or science notation. Production is time consuming, and the cost of
SME textbooks can be prohibitive. ChE is a
challenging discipline and should not be attempted by the faint of heart, but
misconceptions, worries about availability of material, and technological
hurdles should not stop a student from considering t! `

`his`` engineering degree. To this
end, this presentation discusses efforts by people at the University
of Arkansas, the University of Akron,
Chemstations, Inc., and Process Engineering, LLC to
overcome these barriers for [ChE] students.
Software modifications, pedagogy, and other forms of AT will be presented
to inspire future SME students and professionals. `

`Specifically, the use of AT for classroom and homework applications will be
discussed within the context of obtaining a ChE
degree. The discussion will include the use of Braille writers, their
more high-tech counterparts such as new BDAs (Braille
Data Assistants), Braille graphics printers, touch sensitive pads, and raised
line drawing kits. Examples of their use will include tactile graphics
production for material ranging from mathematical expressions to chemical
manufacturing process flow diagrams. AT for SME can even be as simple as
ball and stick model sets for chemistry and physics. Finally, a brief
look at adaptations to ChE design packages such as
CHEMCAD will be demonstrated. Overall this presentation will emphasize
how far the AT envelope can be expanded for use by blind scientists,
mathematicians, or engineers in the workplace or school.`

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