This is a report of “Jump to Science Summer Camp” for students with visual disabilities, held from 22-25 August 2008.

(Detailed report in Japanese is here).

A decline in the young generation to appreciate learning science is a recent major problem in education. This issue is more serious among students with visual disabilities. Interest in science does not grow from textbooks but through the experience of actual touch and individual feelings. Unfortunately educational facilities are insufficient to provide adequate material to stimulate and develop students’ interest, especially for visually disabled students.
For the visually impaired, experimentation and observation in chemistry, physics, or biology laboratory classes require special attention. It is never easy to share graphs and formulae with teachers, other students, or family.
These difficulties often prevent students from proceeding to major science study even when they show aptitude for it. Decline of application in science among the severely visually disabled is extremely obvious.

On the other hand, there are many professional scientists working in their areas and overcoming difficulties with severe visual disabilities. Furthermore, because of the development of computers and the internet, more social activities are becoming available to people with visual disabilities, almost on a par with ordinary people.

“We want to support visually disabled students and encourage them not to give up their hopes toward science, but nurture their dreams and try things courageously.”

This camp has been realized with the collaboration of educators and supporters from various institutes, organizations and individuals, all carrying the same objective. On the heading of our brochure and website we state our objectives;

Educators with experience in teaching visually disabled students were selected to give lectures and skillful supporters provided strong backup. Numbers of severely visually disabled staff members organized this camp, which became an exchange place for seniors and juniors. Lectures for parents were held simultaneously and booths from companies and institutes opened to introduce assistive technology, providing abundant contents to the camp program.

According to feedback from students and parents, this project has received fairly favorable comments. Students showed strong focus in each class, with joy which truly impressed the staff. It seemed to be a valuable opportunity for them to meet their peers those with like visual disabilities.

Jump to Science Summer Camp
Chairperson
Masakazu Suzuki

 


The first meeting for this summer camp was held on March 31, 2006. The Executive Committee was established after half a year of preparation, and its first committee meeting convened on September 8. A grant from the Telecommunications Advancement Foundation had been accepted just before the meeting, and housing reservations at Toyama Sunrise were finalized.
The committee began with around 20 members and gradually grew till it reached a strong composition.
The chairs of the committee were Masakazu Suzuki, Katsuhito Yamaguchi, Mitsushi Fujimoto from NPO Science Accessibility Net (sAccessNet), Makoto Kobayashi from Tsukuba University of Technology, and Tetsuya Watanabe from the National Institute of Special Needs Education.
Executive Committee meetings were held 6 times before the camp, with several sub-meetings when members could see each other on other academic occasions and by Skype-meeting through the internet. Over 1400 emails were exchanged for the camp.

Invitation letter sent to students

The application period was from April 15 through May 15, 2008. In April, information was released through the website and brochures were sent to presidents of special needs schools for the visually disabled. As it was our first experience, we committee members were anxious about whether the number of participants would reach the capacity of 15. In spite of our worry, 31 applicants registered in one month, necessitating us to decline some applications to provide meticulous care for each participant. The committee gave priority to students with severe visual disability, using Braille as a daily tool, and older grade students nearing their graduation. The following is the comparison number of applicants and participants.

 

Number of Applicants/Participants

 

Boys

Girls

Total

Applicants

17

14

31

participants

10

8

18

 

Number of Applicants/Participants by region

 

Tokyo

Aomori

Niigata

Ishikawa

Shizuoka

Aichi

Gifu

Applicants

7

1

1

2

1

3

2

Participants

2

1

1

2

1

2

1

 

 

Nagano

Nara

Hiroshima

Yamaguchi

Tottori

Kagawa

Applicants

1

1

1

3

2

1

Participants

1

0

1

1

2

1

 

 

Kouchi

Nagasaki

Saga

Kumamoto

Total

Applicants

1

1

2

1

31

Participants

0

1

0

1

18

 

Number by years/school

 

Grade

7th

8th

9th

10th

11th

12th

Applicants

3

10

8

4

4

2

Participants

0

9

6

2

1

0

 

 

Type of school

Special Needs school

Ordinary school

Applicants

29

2

Participants

16

2

 

Frequency of usage of Braille/computer

 

Use of Braille

Use of computer

A

B

C

A

B

C

Applicants

21

2

8

8

20

3

Participants

18

0

0

6

12

0

A: Use daily

B: Use occasionally

C: None

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