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ViTAL’s software creates multimodal, accessible learning content, increasing inclusion of special education students in general classrooms

Access to technology in classrooms has grown exponentially in classrooms over the last decade (with 54% of students estimated to have access to one-to-one computing, according to EdWeek), however, issues of equitable access to technology prevail. While many efforts have taken on the digital divide — or the socio-economic gap that mirrors access to technology inside and outside the classroom — another population has been left behind in this race to universal access to tech.

The United States is home more than 700,000 blind and visually impaired students left behind by the ed tech revolution. Technology integration for the blind and visually impaired has barely evolved past manual translation hardware tools and clunky voice-translation software. Inadequate software and hardware solutions can create or exacerbate disparity existing between blind and visually impaired students and their peers.

ViTAL, Vibratory Touchscreen Applications for Learning, is solving these issues by bringing inclusion and accessibility to the general classroom. With innovative software that translates visual content displayed in class into content that can be heard (through sounds), and felt (through vibrations) on touchscreens, blind and visually impaired students will now have the opportunity to participate and succeed in the general classroom.

For co-founder Dr. Jenna Gorlewicz, ViTAL came from “my passion to become an educator and to open up pathways for many that would otherwise struggle to find their life passion.” There are three main components that make up what is now ViTAL: The transformation of information access via touchscreens, haptics in consumer technologies, and the importance of diversity, yet the lack of accessibility, in STEM education.

As a Lean Lab Fellow, co-founder of ViTAL, Corrine Mueller, has been focused on partnering with local school districts in the Kansas City Metro area in order to expand their venture nationwide so that all teachers and students can benefit from accessible learning content and creating inclusion of students with disabilities into the general classroom.

ViTAL is one of five ventures in the 2017 Lean Lab Fellowship. You can come see them pitch, connect with them and celebrate on November 16 at The Lean Lab’s Launch[ED] Day. Join them for a toast, as The Lean Lab gives away $50,000.00 to accelerate education innovation in celebration! Tickets are $25, but use the code FUTURELAND50 to save 50% off. Sign up here.

The Lean Lab Incubator Fellowship is a 3 module accelerator program spanning from August to November for startup ventures focused on solving real problems within education. The Lean Lab is a Kansas City based community that launches transformational education innovations that have national impact.

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A nonprofit in Kansas City, MO building, testing, and launching innovative solutions for public education.

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