Indiana University President Michael A. McRobbie awarded one of the first four grants from IU’s President’s International Research Awards to Professor Steven Mannheimer, associate dean of faculty affairs and professor in the Media Arts and Science program at the IU School of Informatics and Computing at IUPUI.
The new program sponsors international collaborative research projects that engage one or more of IU’s Global Gateways and the communities they serve. Mannheimer received the grant for his partnership with the Indian Institute of Technology-Delhi.
“This grant from the P.I.R.A. program is a great honor, and allows to build on years of research and civic engagement at the School of Informatics and Computing at IUPUI with the blind and visually impaired community of Indiana—and more recently with collaborators in India,” said Mannheimer.
Mannheimer will work with teachers and students from two schools for the blind—one in India and one in Indiana—to develop and test new tactile and audio graphic strategies that better align with the ways that blind and visually impaired students experience the world, with the goal of enhancing their classroom learning.
Mannheimer’s teacher and student workshops incorporate his original concept of “audemes”—meaningful units of sound, such as the jingle of keys or clicks on a keyboard—which are used to enhance blind and visually impaired students’ aural memory of subjects.
The work is part of the Accessible Careers through Technology (ACT) initiative in the School of Informatics and Computing at IUPUI, which presents new avenues for workforce development for the blind and visually impaired that include educational enhancement and assistive technologies in the workplace.
“Over the past year, thanks to the support of the IU India Gateway, we have established collegial partnerships with researchers in India, and are working with them to develop an exciting exploration of innovative design strategies for tactile graphics, which are used internationally in schools for the blind,” said Mannheimer. “This has been a team effort here at the School of Informatics and Computing at IUPUI, involving several faculty and grad students over the years.”
“We are grateful for the chance to expand the scope of our research and service.”