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SBIR Phase I: Artificial Intelligence Software to Tutor Literary Braille to the Blind and Visually Impaired

Award Information
Agency: National Science Foundation
Branch: N/A
Contract: 1046036
Agency Tracking Number: 1046036
Amount: $150,000.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: SBIR
Solicitation Topic Code: EA
Solicitation Number: N/A
Solicitation Year: 2010
Award Year: 2011
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2011-01-01
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2011-06-30
Small Business Information
MURRYSVILLE, PA 15668-9536
United States
DUNS: 157033957
HUBZone Owned: No
Woman Owned: No
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: No
Principal Investigator
 Benny Johnson
 (724) 733-8603
Business Contact
 Benny Johnson
Title: PhD
Phone: (724) 733-8603
Research Institution

This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I project aims to focuses on developing the first artificial intelligence software to tutor literary Braille to blind/visually impaired students. Braille is the primary medium for written communication for the blind and there has been a dramatic decline in Braille literacy, negatively impacting academic performance, ability to navigate the everyday world and employment opportunities. The ability to bring proven effective AI technology to the table, will make a meaningful difference in providing equitable education opportunities to all students, as this project speaks directly to issues of basic literacy. Initially targeted for K-12 students, the majority of which are mainstreamed students served by the itinerant teacher of the visually impaired (TVI), the tutor will be web-based, enabling anyone to receive expert support on demand during study at school and home. Importantly, the tutor will operate using standard accessibility technology already in use. Because the tutor is supplemental to existing curricula and integrates directly with existing lessons, it will not require teachers/TVIs to change lessons, teaching materials, or schedules. In addition to improving learning outcomes for students, this project will also include support for teachers/TVIs responsible for instruction. The broader/commercial impact of this project will be the potential for Braille education software based on artificial intelligence, delivered just-in-time through the Internet. The anticipated impact is that students achieve literacy and are able to perform at a higher level (e.g. academics, daily living, employment) resulting in improved quality of life and increased societal contributions. To have an impact, the product must be affordable, effective for a heterogeneous population in diverse learning environments, easy to use and easily accessed at convenient times and locations in informal and formal educational settings. In SBIR research supported by NIH, Quantum has successfully created AI-based educational software that is accessible to the blind (in chemistry). Furthermore, Quantum has successfully patented and commercialized unique AI technologies in chemistry and accounting using a business-to-business licensing model that provides educational companies with first-to-market and strong sustainable advantages. This model engages the entire spectrum of educational vendors, offering breakthrough technology that permits increased market share for customers and rapid dissemination to end users. For this project, Quantum will partner with organizations with established channels, who distribute the software as an online service, such as the American Printing House for the Blind, a partner on this project.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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