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37th Annual CSUN Assistive Technology Conference Has Concluded

Perception, Pedagogy, and Practice for 3D Printing

Date & Time
Thursday, March 17, 2022 - 1:20 PM PST  
Grand ABCD  
3D printing presents many benefits and opportunities to blind and visually impaired learners and independent practitioners. These include: · Creation and exploration of pre-existing 3D models representing concepts in science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics using popular 3D printers and filament, thereby making these models more readily available and affordable; · Construction of original models creating bespoke access to materials that are relevant and interesting to individuals; · On-demand access to pre-existing models and original development of accessible tools (e.g., protractors, slates, drawing tools) that would otherwise be unavailable; · Access to flexible, scalable, tangible output related to exercises in science, mathematics, and coding that would otherwise be less accessibly represented in visual or textual media. Despite compelling opportunities for learning, creativity, and productivity, blind and visually impaired learners and practitioners must contend with systemic barriers to independent, fluent use of 3d printing software and hardware, including: · Features such as interactive touchscreens and visually labeled components that limit the accessibility of 3D printers; · Software failures such as unlabeled dialogs and controls, incomplete keyboard access, and graphics-heavy interfaces with no text alternatives; · The prevalence of visually-oriented instructions on the subjects of 3D design and printing, both in classroom settings and online; · Scarcity of instructions that specifically address the preferences, workflows, and questions of blind and visually impaired people. Our presentation introduces attendees to the case for prioritizing 3D design and printing for blind and visually impaired learners and practitioners and explains the barriers to working with 3D technology. Our project includes the three fundamental pillars of: · Perception: 3D models augment traditional STEAM education by concretely representing abstract concepts. In the context of remote instruction, when shared classroom supplies and explanatory items touched in common are not practical, ready, independent access to tangible models is more critical than ever. We’ll explore how Nonscriptum developed a full series of downloadable, editable 3D models for geometry supported by a curriculum website with narrative explanations and a live online course for blind and visually impaired students. · Pedagogy: Teachers of blind and visually impaired students, along with classroom teachers, paraprofessionals, parents, and other members of instructional teams, can only offer high-quality integration of 3D design and printing once they understand the fundamentals of 3D design and perception for tactile learners. Including selection criteria for 3D models, appropriate scale, use of labeling and accompanying narratives, considerations for choosing accessible hardware and software for the classroom, and how the Expanded Core Curriculum for blind and visually impaired students relates to digital and manual skills involved in the operation of 3D printing software and equipment. · Practice: As software and hardware in the 3D design and printing arena continue to expand, blind and visually impaired practitioners must engage in continuous learning and experimentation to identify the most accessible workflows. The individual discoveries of practitioners must be surfaced, documented, and disseminated so that the community can advance its understanding of what is possible and preferable. We’ll reveal the insights gleaned from in-depth interviews with 3D design and printing practitioners who are blind or visually impaired, including which computer-aided design packages and software slicers are most accessible; which hardware products present the fewest accessibility barriers; nonvisual techniques for monitoring and working with filament and hardware components; and workarounds/”hacks” that can bridge unavoidable gaps in accessibility.  
  • Higher Education
  • Information & Communications Technology
  • Disability Specific
  • K-12 Education
  • Research & Development
Audience Level
Session Summary (Abstract)
3D models offer exciting opportunities for universal design in STEAM education. Given the promise of multimedia accessibility, how can blind and low vision individuals be more active in designing, producing, and engaging with 3D printing processes? Join us to explore the 3Ps of 3D printing: Perception, Pedagogy, and Practice!  
Session Type
General Track  
  • Blind/Low Vision
  • Digital Accessibility
  • Education


  • Chancey Fleet
    New York Public Library
  • Yue-Ting Siu
    San Francisco State University

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