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Researchers explore classroom innovations for vision impaired students

st vincents Thursday 9 July 2015

Liverpool Hope University brought researchers from around the world to St Vincent’s School to discuss new ways in which to teach Arts, Mathematics and Science to vision impaired students.  

The day of workshops, which also included pupils from St Vincent’s, was organised by Professor Atulya Nagar from Liverpool Hope's Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, and Dr Robinson Thamburaj, Visiting Research Fellow from the Madras Christian College (MCC), Chennai, India.

Dr Thamburaj’s cutting edge computer-based tools, which he is developing in collaboration with Professor Nagar, help teach mathematics, geometry, graphical content and science to vision impaired children and are already being used by students at St Vincent’s – the first school in the UK to use the technology.

Professor Nagar said: “We were delighted to be able to bring leaders in the field to St Vincent’s to find out first-hand how new uses of technology and innovative approaches to teaching can really impact on the experience of students with vision impairment. St Vincent’s has an outstanding reputation for using new technology and we are happy to be able to apply our cutting edge research to the needs of their students.” 

Lord Mayor of Liverpool Cllr Tony Concepcion welcomed delegates to the event.

Dr John Patterson, Principal of St Vincent’s, and who completed his PhD at Liverpool Hope, explained how the school is achieving its aim of becoming an education and enterprise village through research informed, collaboratively driven, outcome led and project-based reverse inclusion.

He said: “Research has shown that 85% of vision impaired children grow up to find themselves unemployed, and they have 5-6 less friends. Our aim at St Vincent’s is to bring the latest research from around the world to change that. We need to capture the knowledge of vision impairment experts from across different disciplines, and share that globally.”  

Professor Yoshiko Toriyama from the University of Tsukuba, Japan, discussed methods for teaching experimental chemistry whilst Dr. Robinson presented on inclusive assistive tools and experiential learning in Mathematics.

Dr. Sajjad Ahmad, a clinical academic ophthalmologist, discussed working across disciplines, while Dr. Mayumi Aoyagi from the National Institute of Technology, Nagaoka College, Japan, gave examples of how the Japanese Higher Education System supports students with vision impairment.

Mrs. Kozue Handa from Japan spoke about making art a tactile experience, and Dr David Feeney from Liverpool Hope University discussed the experiences of vision impaired people in museums.

Dr Feeney said: “Ms Handa's reflections on her personal experiences of producing and interpreting tactile art, and her inventive attempts to bring shape into service as a form of communication are truly groundbreaking. We also have a lot to learn from Dr Aoyagi's account of addressing the challenges faced by young people in Japan with visual impairment as they transition to higher education environments." 

Dr Robinson said: “This conference demonstrated that in order to achieve excellence in teaching and learning for vision impaired students, it is vital that classroom practices and research inform one another. The relationship between Liverpool Hope and St Vincent’s is a great example of this. Experiential learning is an important part of everyone’s learning experience, and as researchers, we want to develop tools that are inclusive and innovative.”  

Department of Mathematics and Computer Science



Back row:(l-r) Dr Robinson Thamburaj and Dr David Feeney

Front row (l-r): Ms.Mayumi Aoyagi, Ms. Kozue Handa, Professor Yoshiko Toriyama 

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