Outline of PowerPoint Presentation 1. Students who are blind or visually impaired are underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). 2. Self-confidence in one's capacity to independently function in science and associated fields may be important for considering STEM studies and careers. 3. Hands-on experiences may contribute to self-confidence. 4. Blind and low vision students do not have many hands-on educational experiences and may not develop sufficient self-confidence in their capacity to independently function in STEM. 5. Lack of self-confidence may contribute to underrepresentation. 6. With funding from the National Science Foundation (SBIR award # 0945481), Independence Science LLC developed text-to-speech software to allow blind and visually impaired students to have independent access to the LabQuest, a portable scientific data collection device used in many educational settings. 7. The accessible "Talking" LabQuest was tested at the Indiana School for the blind. 8. Hands-on laboratory experiences of students at the Indiana School for the Blind were increased by the Talking LabQuest. 9. Increases in self-confidence in science were measured after use of the Talking LabQuest. 10. Increases in consideration of post-secondary STEM studies and careers were found after use of the Talking LabQuest. 11. Student reflections for experiences with the Talking LabQuest were positive. 12. Student reflections for experiences with a non-talking LabQuest were negative. 13. Learning was also enhanced by the Talking LabQuest. 14. Teacher feedback for the Talking LabQuest was extremely positive. 15. Focus groups were conducted at the 2010 NFB conference. 16. Focus group feedback will help to improve the operation of the LabQuest. 17. Personnel science experiences from blind and visually impaired focus group participants included negative association, feelings of being a burden to the class, passive participation, and lack of confidence. 18. Findings presented underscore the importance of providing hands-on experiences for increasing STEM learning and motivation.
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