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Mastering the Monarch

A woman's hands touch a tactile graphic of a monarch butterfly displayed on the Monarch's 0 line by 32 cell refreshable braille display.

The braille metamorphosis has begun! More than 40 teachers from across the U.S. are gathering in Orlando, FL prior to the Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA) conference for two days of training on the Monarch. In collaboration with our partners, HumanWare and the National Federation of the Blind (NFB), an idea conceived years ago is finally a reality as teachers ready themselves to put a revolutionary educational tool at the fingertips of their blind and low vision students.

Weighing about four and a half pounds, the Monarch dynamic tactile device, along with the development of a new dynamic file type called eBraille, bridges the educational gap by reducing the time it takes to get critical information to students, allowing these electronic files to be delivered directly to the Monarch, eliminating the time normally needed to emboss a braille textbook. For the first time, students will have both their braille textbooks and tactile graphics available together on one device, as the Monarch can display tactile graphics and braille on the same display surface.

During the two-day training, teachers will be instructed in all aspects of using the Monarch with their students. Topics include an introduction to using the Monarch, creating tactile graphics, understanding the file manager and braille editor, word processing, graphing, and math. At the end of the two days, participants will be declared Monarch Masters Program graduates and will take their Monarchs with them back to the classroom.

Four additional teacher training sessions will be hosted across the U.S. with the goal of more approximately 200 Monarchs being introduced into school systems across the country, and students taking flight on a new path of learning. Participating teachers agreed to submit three activities for use on the Monarch within six months of their training, and these activities will be shared with other Monarch users. HumanWare and APH have also created a Software Development Kit (SDK) that will allow for app creation for the device.

Thanks to the curiosity and dedication of teachers, the Monarch is ready to soar and take learning to the next level for blind and low vision students. We cannot wait to see what the students who master the Monarch teach us about what’s possible with this revolutionary device.

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