Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania – April 4, 2007, Quantum Simulations, Inc., a developer of artificial intelligence (AI) tutoring, assessment and professional development software, has received $750,000 from the National Eye Institute (NEI), a division of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), to integrate accessibility into Quantum´s tutoring software for chemistry.
The two-year project involves the integration of an accessible interface that supports synthesized speech screen-reader technologies such as JAWS and Window-Eyes with the Quantum Tutors. Equally important, the pedagogy of the software will ensure that student feedback and examples provided by the Tutors are pedagogically relevant for the blind and help provide a clear mental picture of key concepts needed to improve performance and comprehension.
"Quantum is raising the standard for leveraging technologies to better prepare all students in science and math," said Mark Riccobono, Director of Education for the National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute. "This company has taken a leadership role in the field of education technology; instead of avoiding the question of creating tutoring applications that are accessible to the blind, Quantum´s designers consulted directly with the blind to produce innovative tools that will benefit all students."
Because the Quantum Tutors are Internet-based and equipped with a unique dialogue-driven capability that converses with students, the software is well-suited for use with screen-reader technologies and refreshable Braille display systems already familiar to blind students who navigate web sites and access e-mail. As part of prior feasibility studies, two of Quantum´s tutoring modules, Equation Balancing and Measurement, have already been certified by the National Federation of the Blind´s (NFB) Nonvisual Accessibility Web Application Certification Program. This historical achievement marks the first-ever artificial intelligence tutoring software available for the blind and visually impaired.
"Quantum addresses the challenges of equity for the blind by providing real-time personal tutoring help in the sciences, an area where accessible learning software is virtually non-existent," commented Dr. Benny Johnson, President and CEO of Quantum Simulations, Inc.
"Boston Public School students who are blind and visually impaired have successfully used the accessible sections of the Quantum Chemistry Tutors," added Theresa M. Maggiore, M.Ed. and Teacher of the Visually Impaired at Boston Public Schools in Boston, Massachusetts. "Having access to a full curriculum of Tutors will open new opportunities in the field of science exploration and education for students with special needs."
In addition to the blind and visually impaired, other special-needs groups will benefit from the integration of voice output technologies with the Quantum Tutors including low-ability readers, students whose primary language is not English and individuals with other print-related disabilities such as dyslexia.
Quantum Simulations, Inc. develops artificial intelligence (AI) tutoring, assessment and professional development software that empowers teachers and inspires students from middle school through college to improve their knowledge and appreciation for the sciences. Teacher tested and approved by educators across the United States, Quantum´s AI software is proven in research studies to improve comprehension, problem solving skills and test scores by as much as 50%. Quantum´s intelligent tutoring engines are integrated with existing web-based learning products, providing a strong competitive edge for distributing partners. A "technology think tank," Quantum is funded and supported by the U.S. Department of Education, the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health. For more information, visit www.quantumsimulations.com.
ABOUT THE NATIONAL EYE INSTITUTE
NEI is the Federal government´s lead agency for vision research that leads to sight-saving treatments and plays a key role in reducing visual impairment and blindness. NIH is an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. For more information, visit www.nei.nih.gov.