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

Award Information
Agency: National Science Foundation
Branch: N/A
Contract: 1230187
Agency Tracking Number: 1230187
Amount: $378,528.00
Phase: Phase II
Program: SBIR
Solicitation Topic Code: EA
Solicitation Number: N/A
Solicitation Year: 2012
Award Year: 2012
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2012-10-01
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2014-09-30
Small Business Information
5275 Sardis Road
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
Phone: (724) 733-8603
Research Institution

This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II project focuses on developing the first artificial intelligence (AI) educational software to tutor literary Braille to blind/visually impaired students. Braille is the primary medium for written communication for persons who are 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, which is unprecedented in this area of special education, will make a meaningful difference in providing equitable education opportunities to all students, as this project speaks directly to issues of basic literacy. The proposed intervention is an Internet-based adaptive learning system that provides expert instruction on demand during general and special education at school and at home. The software is supplemental to existing curricula, uses standard accessibility technology and integrates directly with existing lessons. In addition to improving learning outcomes for students, this project also includes support for mainstream teachers and teachers of the visually impaired (TVIs). To ensure the product is effective in real-world settings, ongoing formative evaluations with teachers/TVIs will be conducted and student outcomes will be measured during a year two field study. The broader impact/commercial potential of this project will be the first-ever Braille education software based on AI, delivered on-demand 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 the first-ever AI-based educational software that is accessible to the blind (in chemistry and mathematics). Furthermore, Quantum has 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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