April 19, 2024

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SLU Researcher, Collaborators Awarded $750K NSF Convergence Accelerator Phase 1 Grant : SLU

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SLU Researcher, Collaborators Awarded $750K NSF Convergence Accelerator Phase 1 Grant : SLU

Grant to Produce Program System that Generates Obtainable STEM Content material for Persons
with Disabilities 

ST. LOUIS — A collaborative staff of academia, sector, start-ups, and non-earnings,
led by Jenna Gorlewicz, Ph.D., affiliate professor in aerospace and mechanical engineering and affiliate dean of
study and innovation in the Faculty of Science and Engineering at Saint Louis College,
was awarded a National Science Basis (NSF) Convergence Accelerator Stage 1 grant. 

Gorlewicz and her workforce goal to build technological know-how to increase the quality of lifestyle, employment
obtain, and prospects for persons with disabilities, specifically people
with blindness or visible impairments (BVI). 

Dr. Jenna Gorlewicz smiles at the camera. She rests her arm on a wall.

Jenna Gorlewicz, Ph.D. SLU file photo.

The challenge titled, “Bridging the Fragmentation of Information Access — An Built-in, Multimodal Technique
for Inclusive Content Development, Conversion, and Shipping
,” delivers collectively collaborators which includes Pearson, Instructional Tests Companies,
ViewPlus Systems, Crucial, Unar Labs, the Roux Institute at Northeastern University,
and consultants with experience in human-computer conversation, BVI, and STEM schooling
of the visually impaired to tackle the growing hole of information access throughout the
educational ecosystem.

With each other, they will build the AIMS (Automatic, Integrated, Multimodal Program) technique
that generates STEM articles, which include textual content and photos, which college students can accessibility
via sight, seem, and touch. 

Gorlewicz states significantly of the data we interact with nowadays is visual — charts,
graphs, schematics, presentations, and photos. She adds this visible presentation widens
an already persistent facts access hole that needs to be more inclusive to individuals
relying on nonvisual obtain, nor is it supportive of discovering as a result of a number of modalities. 

“This job breaks down pervasive accessibility silos exacerbated in STEM disciplines,
converging throughout suggestions, approaches, and technologies, to produce a application program
that supplies inclusive content throughout several platforms and file formats,” Gorlewicz
explained. “The societal impacts of this function guidance individuals with disabilities in currently being
independent and energetic contributors in remarkably underrepresented STEM domains and serves
nationwide interests by advancing inclusive ways to facts obtain throughout
instructional and professional options.” 

Saint Louis University was a single of 16 multidisciplinary Period I teams the NSF Convergence Accelerator selected for the 2022 Cohort, Monitor H: Improving Prospects for People with Disabilities. As a result of November 2023, the team will participate in an accelerated innovation curriculum
while developing original concepts and prototypes, increasing their community, and formulating
a technique for sustainability. In Phase 1, the staff will create a prototype program
that allows automated creation, conversion, and supply of broadly used, multimodal
STEM content material, knowledgeable by the publishing, education, and assessment partners.

Gorlewicz said, “A tenet of this exploration is that we are functioning with communities
of persons with disabilities. Our personal crew have visual impairments, and we acquire
the method of finding out from the group and its stakeholders and innovating with
them, which is how this job started from its inception.” 

The output of the AIMS method will generate a electronic, multimodal rendering that could
be displayed on platforms such as pcs, cell telephones, or tablets. It will also
establish a actual physical, embossed rendering that can be printed on commercially offered
embossers deployed inside of instructional and vocational configurations worldwide. 

Academic stakeholders will iteratively assess this proof-of-thought. It will
be scaled throughout associates towards producing an accessibility ecosystem that performs throughout
tasks, contexts, hardware, and modalities and extends past folks with BVI
to the broader people with disabilities group. At the close of Phase 1, the group
will participate in a official pitch and Period 2 proposal analysis.  Selected teams
from Period 1 will continue to Period 2, with potential funding up to $5 Million for
24 months.

“We are so delighted to have obtained this award, to be in enterprise with the other excellent
groups that are a element of our cohort, and to have the opportunity to work on the pressing
problem of details entry confronted by several persons with disabilities currently,” Gorlewicz
said. “We are completely ready to collaborate, innovate, and modify how we believe about and
experience facts and the accessibility of STEM written content for the up coming generation.” 

About Saint Louis College

Started in 1818, Saint Louis University is one particular of the nation’s oldest and most prestigious
Catholic institutions. Rooted in Jesuit values and its groundbreaking historical past as the 1st
college west of the Mississippi River, SLU offers much more than 13,500 students a demanding,
transformative education and learning of the entire person. At the core of the University’s varied
group of scholars is SLU’s support-targeted mission, which difficulties and prepares
college students to make the world a far better, more just put.

About the NSF Convergence Accelerator

Released in 2019, the Convergence Accelerator — a Directorate for Engineering, Innovation and Partnerships, or Tip, program — builds upon NSF’s expenditure in simple research and discovery to accelerate answers
toward societal and financial effect. Convergence Accelerator multidisciplinary teams
use convergence investigation fundamentals and innovation processes to promote innovative
thought sharing and development of sustainable answers. 

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