Quantum Receives $100,000 Grant From The National Eye Institute To Research Accessible Tutoring Software For Blind And Visually Impaired Students

June 17, 2005

Research Grant Examines Integration of Quantum’s Artificial Intelligence
(AI) Tutoring Software with Internet-Capable Screen Access Technologies

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania – June 15, 2005, Quantum Simulations, Inc., a developer of artificial intelligence (AI) tutoring and assessment software, was recently awarded a $100,000 research grant by the National Eye Institute (NEI), a division of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), to integrate accessibility for blind and visually impaired students into the Quantum Tutors for science and mathematics.

Because the Quantum Tutors are Internet-based and equipped with a unique dialogue-driven tool that converses with students, the software is well-suited for use with synthesized speech screen access technologies utilized by individuals who are blind or visually impaired to navigate web sites and access e-mail. To demonstrate the feasibility of the research, Quantum will develop a prototype accessible AI tutoring program for a single chemistry topic that is capable of passing certification in the National Federation of the Blind’s (NFB) Nonvisual Accessibility Web Application Certification Program, which will mark the first-ever artificial intelligence tutoring system that is accessible to the blind. If the six-month study is successful, Quantum plans to make all of its Quantum Tutors for Chemistry and Applied Mathematics for Science fully accessible within two years.

At a time when there is a pressing need for improved educational software in science for all students, quality accessible educational software materials for the blind are virtually nonexistent. Quantum’s AI tutoring software addresses this equity challenge directly by providing blind students with effective one-on-one tutoring help where they are free to learn new subjects and solve problems independently, rather than struggle needlessly with today’s visually-based learning materials.

Just like working with a human tutor, Quantum’s tutoring software allows students to work on any problem they choose and receive personal guidance, hints and feedback based on their own work and subject knowledge. Through the use of patented artificial intelligence technology, the Quantum Tutors embody the proven teaching practices of an award-winning master teacher with over 35 years of experience teaching science and mathematics. As a result, classroom research has shown that the Quantum Tutors can improve test scores by as much as 50%.

Quantum’s products are piloted and evaluated in schools across the nation by Wexford, Inc., an independent, non-profit research firm dedicated to ensuring educational equity and excellence for all students. The aim of the NIH grant is to use this very same AI technology to deliver the full power and benefits of the Quantum Tutors to students who are blind and visually impaired.

“We congratulate Quantum for building products which incorporate nonvisual access from the ground up. Working with blind consumers through the NFB Jernigan Institute, providing accessibility in the Quantum AI Chemistry Tutors will help remove barriers that limit blind students’ opportunities in the sciences,” states Dr. Betsy Zaborowski, Executive Director at the National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute and collaborating partner on the grant project.

For research and development of the new accessible AI technology, Quantum has teamed with a network of instructors and partners with extensive experience and expertise in the educational needs of the blind and visually impaired. Collaborating partners include:

    NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND (www.nfb.org) – the largest and most influential membership organization of blind people in the United States.

    AMERICAN PRINTING HOUSE FOR THE BLIND (www.aph.org) – the world’s largest source for adapted educational and daily living products for people who are visually impaired.

    BARTIMAEUS GROUP (www.bartsite.com) – a provider of products, technical solutions and training services for the blind and visually impaired.

“The methodology being created by Quantum and our expert collaborators will have broad impact as we continue to integrate accessibility into technologies such as our new automatic grading and assessment tools, incorporate other accessible technologies such as refreshable Braille output, and expand into new content areas beyond science and mathematics,” comments Dr. Benny Johnson, President and CEO of Quantum and developer of the company’s AI technology. In addition, other special-needs groups will benefit from the integration of voice output technologies into the Quantum Tutors such as low-ability readers, students whose primary language is not English and individuals with other print-related disabilities like dyslexia.”

The prototype accessible AI tutor will be demonstrated by Quantum at the NFB National Convention, the largest convention in the world for addressing the special needs of the blind and visually impaired, held July 2-8, 2005 in Louisville, Kentucky.

Quantum Simulations, Inc. develops artificial intelligence (AI) tutoring, assessment and professional development software that empowers teachers and inspires students from middle school through college to improve their knowledge and appreciation for the sciences. Teacher tested and approved by educators across the United States, Quantum’s AI software is proven in research studies to improve comprehension, problem solving skills and test scores by as much as 50%. Quantum’s intelligent tutoring engines are integrated with existing web-based learning products, providing a strong competitive edge for distributing partners.
A “technology think tank,” Quantum is funded and supported by the U.S.
Department of Education, the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health. For a virtual demonstration of the Quantum Tutors, visit www.quantumsimulations.com/demo.html. To subscribe to the software, visit www.quantumsimulations.com/partners.html for a list of distributing partners.

NEI is the Federal government’s lead agency for vision research that leads to sight-saving treatments and plays a key role in reducing visual impairment and blindness. NIH is an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. For more information, visit www.nei.neh.gov.

Quantum…Inspiring students to learn why

Al Renshaw
Phone: (724) 772-8014
Director, Marketing and Sales
Fax: (724) 772-8042
Quantum Simulations, Inc.
5275 Sardis Road
Murrysville, PA 15668

Visit www.quantumsimulations.com/demo.html
for a virtual demonstration of Quantum’s AI software.