JNU professor develops inclusive chemistry teaching model for visually impaired students
A professor of the prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) has made it possible for students with visual impairments to learn chemistry in a simpler and better way. Professor BS Balaji wanted to ensure that science education is made accessible for students who are blind or have vision related problems and that led to the creation of a new teaching model in Braille.
Professor BS Balaji has developed a Braille model that can be used by teachers to teach chemistry to students who are blind and are visually-challenged. Students with vision impairments use Braille based books and study materials. They also use audio books for learning about various subjects. However, when it comes to science education, there is a shortage of accessible options. For science students the study of Chemistry subject is very important. Chemistry is the study of matter and the chemical reactions between substances. It helps us in understanding the world and its components.
Professor Balaji’s Braille model is based on lock-and-key model and has been created using 3D printing technology with biodegradable polymers.
We have included both Braille and alphanumeric letters in our model. The model cards are like puzzle cards. We have six categories to represent various chemical notations. – Professor BS Balaji, Innovator
The model is inclusive and can also be used by other students as it has letters along with Braille. This also makes it easier to use by teachers who are not proficient in braille.
The model represents various letters that represent the elements, numbers, alphabets, arrows, calculation signs (plus, minus etc.), superscript and subscript. The model can be used to teach about various elements, and concepts of chemistry such as solving chemical equations and understanding them more clearly.
“Science and math education options for visually impaired students does not get enough attention however, things are slowly changing. Students want to take up science but colleges and most educational institutes are not equipped to teach the students due to limited resources. If an inclusive model is used it will encourage educational institutes to admit visually impaired students in science courses. Students can also do group studies and get help from their fellow students since the model offers inclusive access,” says Sadaf Khan from Mumbai.
Professor Balaji is hoping that the model will find its way into the education system and will be made available to visually impaired system across India. Support from National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT),various NGOs and state and central government educational departments can make it possible for visually impaired students in India to study Chemistry.