1. Computing

Orion & Create First Talking, Graphing Calculator for the Blind


Orion & Create First Talking, Graphing Calculator for the Blind

Orion and APH are adapting a TI 84 Plus calculator to aid blind students in STEM courses.

American Printing House for the Blind

Modified TI-84 Plus Designed to Make Math More Accessible to Blind Students:

Orbit Research and the American Printing House for the Blind (APH) are developing the world's first graphing calculator that's fully accessible to blind and visually impaired students.

The calculator is called the Orion TI-84 Plus. It's an adapted version of Texas Instruments' popular TI-84 Plus and will be available in the fall of 2013.

Graphing calculators have added a new dimension to mathematics education -- promoting exploration, conceptual understanding, modeling, and complex problem solving.

The visual nature of such calculators has made them inaccessible to blind students -- a group that has historically struggled to success in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) subjects.

The Orion is designed to provide such access, and is being haled as a breakthrough in STEM education.

Using the Orion TI-84 Plus Graphing Calculator:

While some applications provide blind and visually impaired students with some graphing functions, none has given them opportunities for full participation in class activities using the same device as their sighted peers.

The Orion TI-84 Plus is a compact accessory that attaches to the top of the calculator, enabling a student to interact with the TI-84 Plus using speech, audio, and haptic (vibration) feedback.

All textual and symbolic information displayed on the LCD screen as well as each key-press is spoken using human-sounding synthetic speech. Graphs can be explored using either spoken announcements or the SonoGraph™ audio and haptic feedback, including differential sounds for negative regions and axis crossing points

Users can also review what's onscreen at any time, including all text and graphical information, without losing any information in the current calculation.

The Orion will also have a USB port for expanded use with other hardware accessories, especially printers and braille embossers, which will enable students to produce hard copies of their work.

The Orion TI-84 Plus will be available through APH's Federal Quota Program and units will ship in time for the 2013-2014 school year.

ORION TI-84 Plus Features

  • Broad range of scientific, statistical, and financial functions
  • Large, tactile, functionally zoned keys
  • Learning Mode for instant key identification
  • Full access to all onscreen menus, expressions, text, and symbols
  • Synthesized speech with choice of voices, speech rates, and pitch
  • Haptic feedback for multi-modal graph visualization
  • Built-in stereo speakers and earphone jack
  • Scroll calculation history and quickly recall input/output
  • AC adapter and internal battery that charges from a USB port
  • Dimensions: 9.3 inches x 3.5 inches x 1 inch
  • Accessories: Stereo earphones, AC adapter/charger, user manual
  • One-year limited warranty.

About Orbit Research & APH

Orbit Research manufactures affordable assistive technology products that promote independence among persons who are blind or visually impaired. Its products include the Orion Talking Scientific Calculators and the iBill Talking Banknote Identifier.

Founded in 1858, the American Printing House for the Blind is the oldest US organization developing products for blind students. Since passage of the federal Act to Promote the Education of the Blind (1879), APH has been the nation's official supplier texts in accessible formats such as braille, large-print, and audio. APH also designs and manufactures hundreds of educational, recreational, and daily living products.

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.