Trainers for Visually Impaired Students Introduce 3D Printing

Start and end date: 11/02/2020 to 04/30/2023
Funding frame: ERASMUS+ KA02 Strategic partnership
Duration: 30 months
Project coordinator: BFW Düren

Due to the visual handicap and the requirements for assistive devices, blind and visually impaired people are usually at a disadvantage when it comes to modern digital education. However, digital competence will continue to be a key factor in the probability of placement on the labour market in the future.
Another aspect is that tactile teaching and learning materials are still essential tools in the education of blind and visually impaired students. Such tactile materials are used in lessons of natural sciences, mobility training and all-day living skills. In vocational training tactile models are used in medical and technical subjects.
Until now the production of tactile materials has been expensive and time-consuming. The more simple solution to work with swell paper, however, offers strong limitations in the three-dimensional representation and sufficient reproduction of details. The development of ever cheaper and more powerful 3D printers offers new opportunities for the individual production of versatile and affordable teaching materials.
In addition, 3D printing technology is an emerging innovation in the context of digitalization, which in particular educational organizations need to address in order to be able to transfer the knowledge in a second step to their students. However, in order to meet this requirement, trainers must be able to recognise and operate the technology in question and its potential. However, it is necessary that this topic is not limited to the STEM subjects, as is usually the case.
This project is an initiative to improve the digital education of visually impaired students and their digital competence by implementing 3D technology. These two objectives will be achieved by a two-step strategy.

1. In the first step, teachers and trainers for visually impaired persons will be introduced in the utilization of 3D printers themselves. This step should enable the trainers to create tactile teaching materials and tools for their participants and gain practical experience by using this technology regularly.
2. The next step is to enable the trainers to use their acquired experience to instruct their students in 3D printing according to the methodological requirements of visually impaired students. As an additional result, the products that have been developed during the project will be published on an already existing 3D printing portal (Thingiverse) and on a new and open portal for products for the visually impaired, which will be developed and continuously hosted by the Austrian partner.
The starting point for this project are the experiences of the applicant, who has already successfully realized this procedure in his own company. In the results of this project, the special experiences and requirements of the project partners will be considered and transferred.