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3D printing shaping learning for blind and low vision students

More than 1,000 blind or low vision public school students in NSW are benefiting from access to 3D models, which can be created at their school with a 3D printer.

The NSW Department of Education has developed a growing library of files for printing more than 70 3D resources, aligned to the curriculum and opening a world of learning possibilities for students who are blind or have low vision.

Minister for Education and Early Learning, Sarah Mitchell said that these learning resources, including tactile globes and components of the brain, are world leading examples of inclusive education.

“This is incredible and innovative work by our inclusion specialists. 3D prints of human anatomy are making learning biology easier for students with a vision impairment who would traditionally have used simpler raised line diagrams to help build understanding in the course,” Ms Mitchell said.

“3D prints of different components of the brain show the complexity of how the pieces fit together and also inside the skull.

“We’ve also found that the models are loved by and are enhancing engagement with learning for all students, not only those who are blind or have low vision,” Ms Mitchell said.

Louise Farrell Director Inclusive Education project officer Navkaran Virdi and Minister for Education Sarah Mitchell
Louise Farrell, Director Inclusive Education; project officer Navkaran Virdi and Minister for Education Sarah Mitchell, Image courtesy of NSW Department of Education

Along with developing innovative curriculum materials for students who are blind and vision impaired, the Department has also commissioned a variety of research into best practice for inclusive education.

“We are also releasing today a series of externally researched reports to continue strengthening our approach to inclusive education and improving learning outcomes for students with disability,” Ms Mitchell said.

The result of two and half years of research and development, schools can print the new 3D materials on their own 3D printer, or borrow one from the Department’s central store.

To access the inclusive education research reports visit the Department of Education website: https://education.nsw.gov.au/teaching-and-learning/disability-learning-and-support/our-disability-strategy/initiatives

3D printed kidneys heart globe and Uluru
3D printed kidneys, heart, globe and Uluru, Image courtesy of NSW Department of Education

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