A Haptic System for Depicting Mathematical Graphics for Students with Visual Impairments
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When teaching students with visual impairments educators generally rely on tactile tools to depict visual mathematical topics. Tactile media, such as embossed paper and simple manipulable materials, are typically used to convey graphical information. Although these tools are easy to use and relatively inexpensive, they are solely tactile and are not modifiable. Dynamic and interactive technologies such as pin matrices and haptic pens are also commercially available, but tend to be more expensive and less intuitive. This study aims to bridge the gap between easy-to-use tactile tools and dynamic, interactive technologies in order to facilitate the haptic learning of mathematical concepts. We developed an haptic assistive device using a Tanvas electrostatic touchscreen that provides the user with multimodal (haptic, auditory, and visual) output. Three methodological steps comprise this research: 1) a systematic literature review of the state of the art in the design and testing of tactile and haptic assistive devices, 2) a user-centered system design, and 3) testing of the system’s effectiveness via a usability study. The electrostatic touchscreen exhibits promise as an assistive device for displaying visual mathematical elements via the haptic modality.