PALO ALTO, Calif. — June 17, 2022 —Benetech, the leading software for social good nonprofit, today announced two significant AI initiatives to reduce barriers to STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education and employment for people with disabilities and learning and thinking differences. The programs, supported by General Motors (GM) and Schmidt Futures, a philanthropic initiative of Eric and Wendy Schmidt, are focused on leveraging AI to make complex visuals, graphs, and equations in science and math educational materials accessible to people with dyslexia, vision loss, and other reading barriers. This technology will be used to enhance the accessibility of STEM education materials for students with reading barriers and empower other education stakeholders, including teachers, publishers, researchers, and students themselves, to improve the accessibility of their own materials.
“Betting early on people and organizations addressing big challenges is one of our core guiding principles,” said Kumar Garg, Vice President of Partnerships, at Schmidt Futures. “Math literacy is essential for a 21st century STEM education, the foundation to compete for jobs of the future. Benetech’s vision to make tools that can provide new pathways to make STEM education accessible will transform the livelihoods of millions of students.”
Benetech brings two decades of expertise leveraging new technology to make reading and learning accessible for people with reading barriers, at scale, through its Bookshare initiative. However, transforming STEM education materials into accessible formats poses a significant challenge. Textbooks have complex formats, full of charts, graphs, and equations that must be manually transformed into accessible formats. The average Math textbook has over 5,000 equations, and it can take three to four months for a human to transform a print math book into accessible formats that can be properly read by a screen reader. This is a significant obstacle for students with reading barriers. …Read More