Embossed Documents (DER) allow people with visual impairments to explore graphical representations by touch. They can thus have access to content that is essential for a great deal of learning but difficult to understand by language alone (a geographic map, a plan, the anatomical diagram of a plant, a graph, etc.).
However, the techniques and tools used to design and interact with these DERs have not benefited from the digital dynamic. Also, these traditional DERs have a certain number of limits which weigh both on the practices of specialized teachers but also on the learning of visually impaired and blind students. In this context, the applied research laboratory “Cherchons pour Voir”, common to the Institut de Recherche en Informatique de Toulouse (IRIT) and the Institut des Jeunes Aveugles (IJA) of Toulouse has designed two digital devices: DERi and Tangible Box. DERi (cf. figure 2a) is a device making it possible to make interactive a DER (activation of sounds or audio verbal descriptions associated with tactile exploration). Tangible Box (see Figure 2b) is another interactive device at very low cost, very similar in principle, but allowing the use of objects to manipulate digital data (tangible computing). DERi and Tangible Box were designed in a participatory manner, with professionals of the visually impaired. They are now used in several specialized classes of the IJA to teach several subjects (Geography, History, Mathematics, Orientation and Mobility, etc.).
The AccessGraph project aims to: 1) finalize the transfer of two devices from the “Cherchons pour voir” laboratory to professionals with visual impairment; 2) to develop a body of knowledge relating to the conditions under which these two digital devices improve the learning of visually impaired students compared to traditional practices involving relief drawings.
The project is based on a multidisciplinary scientific consortium composed of two Toulouse laboratories whose fields of expertise are complementary: the Toulouse1 Computer Research Institute (UMR 5505) and the CLLE2 laboratory (Cognition, Languages, Language, Ergonomics, UMR 5263) and three specialized centers on visual impairment (IJA3, ASEI-Cival Lestrade4, CTRDV5). It also relies on the applied research laboratory “Seek to See” 6, common to the IJA and the IRIT.