Technology and Innovation

The project is based on the products and results of the projects ELLVIS and VET4VIP
ELLVIS – There are still very few adequate language learning materials available for visually impaired (vi) people. The Comenius project “ELLVIS” created an English course for vi French, German, Italian and Romanian speaking learners. ELLVIS has an alternative interactive user interface for language learning using force-feedback devices. The English course for beginners was designed for learners who – for whatever reason – cannot read or write Braille. Therefore the course focuses on listening comprehension and oral skills and covers level A1. Designed as a self-learning CBT, ELLVIS can also be used in the classroom due to its modular design. The course has successfully been tested and evaluated by training institutions for blind learners and comes with a technical and a teacher’s manual.
VET4VIP – Whereas ELLVIS is a general English course, the Lingua project VET4VIP developed business English training modules for vi adult learners. These training modules are interactive computer-based language modules (using the same technology as the ELLVIS course) designed for blind and vi people focusing on listening and speaking skills. In addition, since one of the major challenges is to find qualified language teachers capable of teaching VIPs, the project produced a training framework and materials for existing qualified language teachers giving them the skills necessary to integrate visually impaired students into their language classes.

ELLVIS and VET4VIP are innovative in several aspects:
1. They are language courses especially designed for blind and visually impaired learners by language specialists and vi specialists. They are not traditional language learning materials simply translated into Braille.
2. Another innovative character of the projects lies in their uniqueness with regards to accessibility and feedback. Language courses at the computer for this particular target group of visually impaired professionals are great help for areas hitherto inaccessible. By supplying the materials, the didactic concept and the multilingual user interface the projects break barriers, which is both a desirable and a demanding path for language trainers and learners.
3. Computer-based training for blind and visually impaired people is not really well developed, because the current graphic user-interfaces are not really accessible for vi learners. The use of the force-feedback technology of the ELLVIS and VET4VIP projects offer true interactivity and learning methods that are otherwise only manageable by sighted people (like drag&drop tasks). So far, the learning methods and technology employed for vi learners in the ELLVIS and VET4VIP projects is unique on a worldwide scale. Similar attempts have been made by universities, but those prototypes never left the laboratories or are available.

Altogether, ELLVIS and VET4VIP (and the forerunner ALLVIP) were developed in close cooperation with 10 schools and institutions for vi learners. This way, the technology and methods of the language courses were developed by involving the target group from a very early stage. Furthermore, four project partners were blind themselves and provided enormously helpful feedback. The methods and technology of ELLVIS and VET4VIP has been continuously developed since 2005. For example, VET4VIP was selected for the British Ministry of Health catalogue for assistive technology research 2013 for the third time. Also, ELLVIS and Vet4Vip were awarded with the European Language Label in Italy. It can be stated that the technology and methods work for vi learners, either as computer-based self-learning course or in the classroom. Therefore, ELLVIS and VET4VIP were chosen as a basis for the proposal.

The proposed ALL4WELL transfer will provide new pedagogic services and approaches for the special target group of blind people working in the wellness sector. The planned course will fill a gap. Due to the demographic development, the field of wellness oriented applications offers more and more possibilities for masseurs and physiotherapists. For those desiring to work in this field there is an obvious demand for broader communicative skills, knowledge of foreign languages and intercultural skills if they want to raise their employment prospects. The project will provide those students with tools to improve their versatility and mobility as far as language is concerned – and thus their employment outlooks. In this sense, ALL4WELL will show that special learning materials for a special target group is not only possible, but als feasible.
Furthermore, the adapted authoring system will enable language teachers for vi students to further modify and adapt the ALL4WELL course to other specific needs of their learners.

With the exception of the Austrian partner, the partnership represents the initial developers of the chosen results.