Increasing the STEM Potential of Individuals Who Read Braille
Welcome to Project INSPIRE (Increasing the STEM Potential of Individuals Who Read Braille). Our goal is to support professionals, youth in grades 6-12, and young adults in building their skills in the two braille codes used in the United States for STEM classes. To accomplish our goal our project continues to develop:
- Six-week online courses for teachers of students with visual impairments, braille transcribers, adult service providers, and university disability resource center personnel
- Engaging virtual sessions for targeted groups of students (middle school, high school) to learn and practice Nemeth code within UEB Contexts through our "Nemeth in a Box" program and in 2023 and 2024 UEB Technical.
- Fun virtual STEM Braille Bowl Competitions to challenge braille users in grades 6th-12th throughout the U.S. to demonstrate their skills and knowledge in the STEM braille codes
Learn more about our free on-demand self-paced courses available to anyone and our Nemeth in a Box for Middle School Students. We have developed seven lessons that teachers, families, and others can use with middle school braille readers.
Project INSPIRE received funding through the U. S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services on October 1, 2019. Dr. Tina Herzberg, Professor and Coordinator of the Visual Impairment Education Program, at the University of South Carolina Upstate, is the Principal Investigator for this 5-year project. Download the abstract for an overview of the project.
We have a talented Project INSPIRE team.
Dr. Tina Herzberg: Dr. Herzberg is a Professor at USC Upstate where she has coordinated the Visual Impairment Education Program since 2007. She has broad expertise in developing distance education materials and teaching braille in higher education. Dr. Herzberg is a certified teacher of students with visual impairments as well as a secondary mathematics and English teacher. She is a member of the Braille Formats Technical Committee for the Braille Authority of North America. For five years, Dr. Herzberg was the principal investigator for the project The Possibilities are Endless: Providing Braille Throughout South Carolina (BrailleSC). Materials developed through BrailleSC are available on Paths to Literacy.
Ms. Sara Larkin: Mrs. Larkin is the statewide math consultant for the Iowa Educational Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired. In this role since 2007, she works with teachers of students with visual impairments and classroom teachers to ensure students have access to math education and that their teachers provide high-quality instruction. Previously she served 18 years as a high school math and computer programming teacher in the general education classroom. During those years, she also worked with students who were preparing for and participating in math competitions.
Ms. Susan Osterhaus: Ms. Osterhaus has over 40 years of experience in the area of mathematics for students with visual impairments at the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired.She is nationally and internationally recognized for her work to support the math skills of students with visual impairments and their teachers. Ms. Osterhaus serves on committees for the Braille Authority of North America and collaborates on many math-related projects throughout the U. S. and internationally.
Dr. L. Penny Rosenblum: Dr. Rosenblum is the owner of Vision for Independence, LLC. From 2016-2019, she was the Project Director for the AnimalWatch Vi: Building Graphics Literacy project. She has been a teacher of students with visual for more than 35 years and was a university faculty member for 22 years preparing teachers and conducting research.
Dr. Tiffany Wild: Dr. Wild began her education career as a middle school science and math teacher and later became a teacher of students with visual impairments. She is an Associate Professor at the Ohio State University in the Department of Teaching and Learning. Dr. Wild’s research focuses on science education for students with visual impairments. She has published and presented both nationally and internationally. She routinely consults on STEM related projects.
Mr. Michael Cantino: Michael is an educator, braille transcriber, and AT specialist living in Portland, Oregon. He is currently serving as the BVIS Technology Professional Development Specialist for Oregon’s public schools. Michael specializes in creating accessible materials for complex subject matter, including art, STEM, and wayfinding, and he has participated in extensive research into the use of 3D printed models for blind learners. Through Raised Mathematics, Michael is helping to create an automated braille-conversion process for college-level math textbooks (with tactile graphics!) and is helping to improve math accessibility on the web.
Mrs. Alyssa Dickerson Moody: Mrs. Dickerson Moody is an alumni of USC Upstate and has worked as an Administrative Coordinator for the College of Education, Human Performance, and Health since 2015.
Advisory Board Members
Project INSPIRE has an exceptional Advisory Board.
Ms. Kathrine Borg: Ms. Kate Borg is the Director of Outreach at the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired. Kate joined TSBVI in 2019 after working at the Utah School for Deaf and Blind (USDB) for many years. Kate has been an administrator, instructional coach, classroom teacher, and itinerant TVI. In addition to leading TSBVI's Outreach mission, Kate has leadership roles within the Principals of Schools for the Blind (POSB) and the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (AERBVI).
Ms. Diane Brauner: Ms. Brauner is an educational accessibility consultant collaborating with Perkins School for the Blind, SAS Institute, and various educational app developers. She manages the Perkins eLearning website, Paths to Technology. She has over 25 years of experience as a Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist.
Mr. Chris Burke: Mr. Burke is the 2019 Iowa Teacher of the Year. For the past 13 years Chris has taught 8th grade mathematics at Eleanor Roosevelt Middle School in Dubuque, IA. In addition to the classroom Chris serves his building and district as a mathematics content leader, is a member of Roosevelt's Building Leadership Team, and sits on the Dubuque Community School District Teacher Quality Committee. Mr. Burke is also an assistant boys cross country coach at Hempstead High School and th-8th grade girls track coach at Roosevelt.
Ms. Charlotte Cushman: Ms. Cushman is the former manager of the Paths to Literacy and Active Learning Space websites, both of which are collaborations between Perkins School for the Blind and Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired. She has been in the field for more than 40 years, as a classroom teacher, teacher trainer, and web manager. She has published and presented nationally and internationally.
Ms. Susan Glaser: Ms. Glaser is the Florida Statewide Educational Specialist for the Visually Impaired. She has experience with transition-age students through her work at the Lighthouse for the Blind & Low Vision in Tampa. As a certified TSVI and statewide specialist, she brings multiple perspectives to the Advisory Board.
Mr. Mike Griffith: Mr. Griffith has a strong background in the area of instructional technology. Since 2014, he has been the Director of Instructional & Learning Technology in the College of Education at the University of Arizona.
Mr. Eric Guillory: Mr. Guillory serves as an instructor at the Louisiana School for the Visually Impaired (LSVI). He has more than 20 years of experience in the field of blindness and low vision, most notably in the areas of braille literacy and access technology proficiency. He also provides graduate-level instruction in the preparation of future TBVIs.
Mr. Marty McKenzie: Mr. McKenzie serves in two roles, one as the Principal of Statewide Blind and Visually Impaired Education, Division of Outreach Services at the South Carolina School for the Deaf and Blind and the other as the statewide vision consultant.
Dr. Yue-Ting Siu: Dr. Siu is the Coordinator for the brand new, Pacific NW Regional Center for Assistive Technology Training (CATT). She is nationally recognized for her knowledge and work in the area of assistive technology for students with visual impairments.
Ms. Jennifer Wheeler: Ms. Wheeler has been a certified braille transcriber for 18 years. She is a teacher of students with visual impairments, orientation and mobility specialist, and assistive technology specialist. Ms. Wheeler works at the Foundation for Blind Children in Phoenix.
Mr. Isaac Zwinger-Nathanson: Mr. Zwinger-Nathanson is an undergraduate student at the University of Arizona. During his K12 education he attended both a school for the blind and a public school program.
Project INSPIRE has a fantastic team working behind the scenes.
Leslie Borton: Certified Teacher of Visually Impaired
Michael Cantino: Braille Transcriber
Bethany Hastings: Certified Teacher of Visually Impaired
Karen Hudak: Certified Teacher of Visually Impaired
Nathan Widener: Video Editing
Project INSPIRE continues to develop self-paced, 6-week, online courses at no cost for targeted groups of professionals including:
- teachers of students with visual impairments (TSVIs)
- braille transcribers
- paraprofessionals supporting PK-12th grade students
- adult service providers (e.g., Lighthouse for the Blind, Division of Blind Services, vocational rehabilitation agencies, private agencies)
Courses will be developed and offered on topics including Nemeth Code within UEB Contexts and UEB Technical. Methods of instruction and materials that can be used in the classroom are included within the courses. Learn about the courses we already have released.
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Nemeth in a Box (STEM Braille Boot Camp)
Nemeth in a Box is seven lessons that teachers of students with visual impairments (TSVIs) or ofthers (e.g., paraprofessionals, family members) can use to review and/or introduc Nemeth Code symbols at the middle level and review math concepts in a fun way.
Project INSPIRE has offered Nemeth in a Box 4 times to students throughout the United States using Zoom videoconferencing.
UEB in a Box (STEM Braille Boot Camp)During the project's final year (fall 2023) we will offer "UEB Technical in a Box" to US middle school braille readers using Zoom video conferencing.
Mission INSPIRE (STEM Braille Bowl Competition)In Spring 2022, the Project INSPIRE Team took on the role of Mission Control to offer a science-fair type experience to rocket scientists (students with visual impairments ages 11-15). A second group of rocket scientists will participate in Mission INSPIRE 2023.
As the Project INSPIRE develops courses, we compile resource lists that individuals can reference in their work. Download the resource lists:
- Pre-Kindergarten - 1st grade
- 2nd - 5th Grade Introduction
- 2nd - 5th Grade Fractions and Spatial Problems
- 3rd - 8th Grade Geometry
- Middle Grades
The following resources are ones Project INSPIRE team memebers use in our work.
Braille Authority of North America
BANA provides guidance documents and codebooks.
CNIB UEB Technical Self-Directed Course
CNIB offers a self-directed course about UEB Technical material.
Iowa Educational Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Sara Larkin has compiled a wealth of information related to math for students with visual impairments.
Nemeth Symbol Library
This free database/glossary includes information about Nemeth symbols and examples of how they are used in math problems across grade levels. Information is available in BRF format and in PDF format with SimBraille.
Paths to Literacy
Paths to Literacy is an interactive Community of Practice where educators and families can find and share activities, resources, and other ideas. Type “Math” into the search field to gain access to a wide range of articles and blog postings.
Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired Math Home Page
Susan Osterhaus has compiled a wealth of information related to math for students with visual impairments.
TSBVI Mathematics Videos and Webinars
The TSBVI webpage includes a collection of videos and webinars about teaching math to students who are visually impaired and tools that can be used during math instruction.
UEB Online from Australia
Ten introductory and ten advanced lessons specific to UEB mathematics are available on this website.