Project INSPIRE

Project INSPIRE logo

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 we will develop and offer:

  • Six-week online courses for teachers of students with visual impairments, braille transcribers, adult service providers, and university disability resource center personnel
  • Engaging virtual STEM Braille Boot Camps that provide multiple opportunities to learn and practice STEM braille codes for students in 6th grade through college
  • 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

The materials developed by Project INSPIRE team will be available through Paths to Literacy, Paths to Technology, and the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired.

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 PDF icon for an overview of the project. 

Join our mailing list to get information about upcoming Project INSPIRE events and activities as well as like our Facebook page.

Project Inspire Team

Team Members

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.

Email Dr. Herzberg.

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 Director of Research at the American Foundation for the Blind. 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 30 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.

Miss Alyssa Dickerson: Miss Dickerson is an alumni of USC Upstate and has worked as an administrative assistant for the School 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 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 38 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 is the Director of Youth Services at the Louisiana Center for the Blind. Among his many responsibilities, he leads the Summer Transition and Empowerment Program (STEP). He has worked as a teacher of students with visual impairments and as a consultant with expertise in assistive technology.

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 a faculty member at San Francisco State University where she prepares teachers of students with visual impairments. 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 15 years. For the last 9 years, she has been a teacher of students with visual impairments, orientation and mobility specialist, and assistive technology specialist for the Arizona State Schools, Deaf and Blind’s Desert Valley Regional Cooperative 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.

Support Team

Project INSPIRE has a fantastic team working behind the scenes.

Karen Hudak: Certified Teacher of Visually Impaired

Amy Lancaster: Video Editing

Dana Powell: Certified Teacher of Visually Impaired

Cynthia Sanchez: Certified Braille Transcriber

Project Activities

Online Courses

Each year Project INSPIRE will offer up to six self-paced, 6-week, online courses at no cost for targeted groups of professionals including:

  • teachers of students with visual impairments (TSVIs)
  • braille transcribers
  • adult service providers (e.g., Lighthouse for the Blind, Division of Blind Services, vocational rehabilitation agencies, private agencies)  
  • university disability resource center personnel

In total 24 courses will be developed and offered on topics including Nemeth Code within UEB Contexts, UEB Technical, and Braille Instructional Methods. Review the tentative list of courses (link to PDF Project INSPIRE Tentative Course offerings PDF).

In spring and summer 2020, Project INSPIRE will offer the following courses:

Audience

When Offered

Course

TSVIs

Spring 2020

Preparing Math and Science Materials in Nemeth Code for Pre-Kindergarten to First Grade Students

Paraprofessionals

Summer 2020

Preparing Math and Science Materials in Nemeth Code for Pre-Kindergarten to First Grade Students

TSVIs

Summer 2020

Preparing Math and Science Materials in Nemeth Code for Second to Sixth Grade Students

STEM Braille Boot Camp

Beginning in the fall of 2020, Project INSPIRE will offer an online STEM Boot Camp. We are in the beginning planning stages for the boot camp. We envision that students will participate from across the United States. Each will receive a hard copy booklet of materials prior to the start of the STEM Braille Boot Camp.

STEM Braille Boot Camps – Nemeth Code

  • Boot Camp 1: Nemeth Code for Established Nemeth Users in Grades 6-8
  • Boot Camp 2: Nemeth Code for Students Learning/Transitioning to Nemeth Code in Grades 6-8
  • Boot Camp 3: Nemeth Code for Established Nemeth Users in Grades 9-12 and Post-Secondary Education
  • Boot Camp 4: Nemeth Code for Students Learning/Transitioning to Nemeth Code in Grades 9-12 and Post-Secondary Education

STEM Braille Boot Camps – UEB Technical

  • Boot Camp 5: Introduction to UEB Technical for Students in Grades 6-12 and Post-Secondary Education
  • Boot Camp 6: Advanced UEB Technical for Students in Grades 6-12 and Post-Secondary Education

STEM Braille Bowl Competition

All students who take part in a STEM Braille Boot Camp will be invited to take part in the culminating STEM Braille Bowl Competition for their age level. The competitions will be designed similar to a state-level competition in math or science. These competitions will be held beginning in 2022.

STEM Braille Bowl Competitions

  • Competition 1 for Students in Grades 6-8
  • Competition 2 for Students in Grades 9-12
  • Competition 3 for Post-Secondary Students
Resources

Resources

The following resources are ones Project INSPIRE team members 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 impairements.

Nemeth Braille Searchable Database
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.

Nemeth e-Learning Course from TSBVI
This self-paced, free course has information about Nemeth code for K-12 learners.

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 taht 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.

Project INSPIRE - Kids Learning at USC UpstateProject INSPIRE - Kids Learning at USC UpstateProject INSPIRE - Kids Learning at USC UpstateProject INSPIRE - Kids Learning at USC Upstate