Use of a sonification system for science learning by people who are blind

Orly Lahav*, Nuha Chagab, Vadim Talis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to examine a central need of students who are blind: the ability to access science curriculum content. Design/methodology/approach: Agent-based modeling is a relatively new computational modeling paradigm that models complex dynamic systems. NetLogo is a widely used agent-based modeling language that enables exploration and construction of models of complex systems by programming and running the rules and behaviors. Sonification of variables and events in an agent-based NetLogo computer model of gas in a container is used to convey phenomena information. This study examined mainly two research topics: the scientific conceptual knowledge and systems reasoning that were learned as a result of interaction with the listen-to-complexity (L2C) environment as appeared in answers to the pre- and post-tests and the learning topics of kinetic molecular theory of gas in chemistry that was learned as a result of interaction with the L2C environment. The case study research focused on A., a woman who is adventitiously blind, for eight sessions. Findings: The participant successfully completed all curricular assignments; her scientific conceptual knowledge and systems reasoning became more specific and aligned with scientific knowledge. Practical implications: A practical implication of further studies is that they are likely to have an impact on the accessibility of learning materials, especially in science education for students who are blind, as equal access to low-cost learning environments that are equivalent to those used by sighted users would support their inclusion in the K-12 academic curriculum. Originality/value: The innovative and low-cost learning system that is used in this research is based on transmittal of visual information of dynamic and complex systems, providing perceptual compensation by harnessing auditory feedback. For the first time the L2C system is based on sound that represents a dynamic rather than a static array. In this study, the authors explore how a combination of several auditory representations may affect cognitive learning ability.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)187-198
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Assistive Technologies
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2016


  • Accessibility
  • Blindness
  • Cognition
  • Computer-based learning
  • Learning
  • STEM


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