Software for math and science education for the deaf

Jul 8, 2013, 13:08 PM
Adamo-Villani, N.& Wilbur R. (2010). Software for math and science education for the deaf. Disability and Rehabilitation: Assistive Technology, 5(2), 115-124.


  • Grade/Age Level: Kindergarten through sixth grade math
  • Specific Difficulty Addressed: Teach math to deaf students who know ASL, provide equal access to STEM education for individuals who are hard of hearing, model for teaching technology to improve deaf education
  • Type of AT Used: 3D animated interactive software, Mathsigner, SMILE



  • Mathsigner: 3D animated ASL-based interactive software with accurate, real signs and natural expressions
  • Formative and summative evaluations
  • 60 signs-divided into 3 groups according to complexity
  • 53 participants aged 28-63 (3 hearing; 32 learned ASL from birth)
  • Participants viewed animated clips, testing for recognition of the sign, meaning (if recognized) and rate realism
  • User Interface Study
  • 16 deaf children ages 6-11
  • Participants completed 3 tasks (counting, addition, shapes) using the program
  • Survey inquired about the usability of the buttons, the arrows and going from one screen to the other.
  • Task performance was measured in accuracy and time.
  • SMILE (Science and Math in an Immersive Learning Environment):A Virtual Learning Environment where deaf and hearing children are taught STEM concepts through 3D characters communicating in ASL and spoken/written English
  • SMILE uses seamless characters with 3D animated signing for fluid signing with content designed by experts


  • Mathsigner
  • The character Torrents (seamless mesh) was rated higher than Robbie (fully segmented avatar)
  • The least complex group of signs was rated highest
  • Evaluation on user interfaces (static, an interface with highlighting/sound feedback and interface incorporating five Disney animation principles). There were no significant differences in completion time between interfaces. There were also no significant differences in number of errors, appeal for buttons or arrows. However, participants preferred the animated interface.
  • Evaluation: usable and fun, good visual representation quality and signing motion quality and allowed for recommendations for design improvement to be generated.
  • Problems revealed included: VR, 3D modeling and animation, and American Sign Language
  • Formative evaluations: the game was more fun and easier to use and slightly more challenging than expected. Complaints included a few objects being hard to pick up, some text being hard to read and the 3D glasses being uncomfortable.
  • Females took longer to complete the game on both the immersive and non-immersive platforms and although they did not show a preference for either platform, they learned the immersive interface faster.
  • Males were more interested in the immersive platform, showing a preference for technology. Females showed a preference for content.
  • STEM