1 MoLLVIS, Mobile Language Learning for Visually Impaired Students Progress Report Public Part
2 Project information Project acronym: Project title: Project number: Sub-programme or KA: Project website: MoLLVIS Mobile Language Learning for Visually Impaired Students LLP IT-KA2-KA2MP 2 Languages Reporting period: From 01/01/2014 To 30/11/2014 Report version: Interim Report Date of preparation: 23/12/2014 Beneficiary organisation: UNIONE ITALIANA CIECHI ED IPOVEDENTI FIRENZE Project coordinator: Mario Paiano Project coordinator organisation: Centro Machiavelli, Scuola di Lingua e Cultura Italiana per Stranieri Project coordinator telephone number: Project coordinator address: This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication [communication] reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein Copyright Education, Audiovisual & Culture Executive Agency. The document may be freely copied and distributed provided that no modifications are made, that the source is acknowledged and that this copyright notice is included.
3 Executive Summary MoLLVIS promotes German language learning especially among people who are blind and visually impaired (vi). The German course and the planned German hospitality module will be provided for Italian, Dutch, Romanian, English and Turkish speaking learners. The project is based on the results of the previous EU projects ALLVIP, ELLVIS and VET4VIP. Within these projects has been created computer-based language courses for vi learners that run on PC systems. MoLLVIS intends to ensure that the German course run not only on PC systems, but also on mobile devices. For a person with visual impairment (vi) language learning is the main road towards effective communication, social inclusion and job opportunity. The present economic trend shows the German economy is in a growing phase, and German tourists are still world-wide leaders in travelling abroad. Consequently, job opportunities in all fields based on verbal communication are a crucial factor in view of implementing social integration and job opportunities for people with vi in Europe. Unfortunately, mainstream publishers do not take students who are blind and vi into account when developing teaching materials. Since paper-based text books are not accessible, computer-based teaching material designed for students with vi provides real chances of learning a foreign language. In this context, mobile devices like smartphones and tablet computers can offer new ways of language learning. These devices are not only attractive to younger people, they also offer accessibility features for people with vi. However, existing language learning apps on these devices are not accessible. At the same time, these apps make no use of the communicative potential that these devices offer. So, MoLLVIS has the aim to create German language learning apps for Windows, Apple and Android devices based on the results of those previous projects. Considering the wide application of the new technologies, we expect this system of flexible use of teaching content to have a considerable impact. As the user-interface is designed to be also attractive to sighted learners, the impact goes beyond the group of VI students and will reach a wide audience. Mobile devices, especially smart phones and tablet PCs, are on the verge of becoming the standard lifestyle, business, training and communication gadget of our main target groups, namely young learners, professional language learners, university students and trainees. Language learning should adapt and could more and more profit from the opportunities this technology offers to all, not least to students with special learning requirements such as visual or other physical impairments, as these devices also offer accessibility features and are increasingly popular with blind and visually impaired people. Last but not least, a computer-based language course that can easily be used by sighted AND visually impaired students, is not only innovative, but also an important step towards inclusion and language learning for all. As final result of the project, after the adaptation, improvement and updating of the contents taking into account the cultural aspects of the involved countries, the existing ALLVIP, ELLVIS and VET4VIP courses can be used on several (mobile) devices and operating systems.
4 Table of Contents 1. PROJECT OBJECTIVES PROJECT APPROACH PROJECT OUTCOMES & RESULTS PARTNERSHIPS PLANS FOR THE FUTURE CONTRIBUTION TO EU POLICIES EXTRA HEADING/SECTION... ERRORE. IL SEGNALIBRO NON È DEFINITO.
5 1. Project Objectives General aim of MoLLVIS project is to create German language learning apps for Windows, Apple and Android devices based on the results of the European projects ALLVIP, ELLVIS and VET4VIP that created computer-based language courses for learners blind or with visual impairments. This is an important step towards promoting German language learning on new generation of devices for this target group. Starting from this general aim, the main project objectives are: Specifications of an accessible user interface for language learning software on mobile devices for learners who are blind or visually impaired. Specifications of language learning activities that make use of the communicative potential of mobile devices (telephone, voice streaming, tandem learning, and other). Programming of an accessible user interface and communicative language learning activities for mobile devices. Programming of language learning apps for the mobile operating systems Windows 8, Apple ios, and Android. Update of the ALLVIP German course (level A1) for Dutch-, English-, Italian-, Romanian-, and Turkish-speaking learners. Development of a job-oriented German language learning module for the tourism and wellness sector (hospitality module) The consortium is addressing these objectives through the profitable contribution of all partners, who have either worked in the ALLVIP and/or in the ELLVIS and VET4VIP projects and have an high interest in the results of the project. As the German language modules in phase of updating and improvement are adaptable to include new contents, learner languages, and partly new target languages, these modules can over time support linguistic diversity for the target group being in line with new technology and devices available on the market. This is an important step towards promoting language learning for blind and vi people. Once grown out of special schools or having left rehabilitation training, blind and visually impaired people have the problem of getting further training, training for the job, or language training, especially for business purposes. At the same time, there are very few interactive language-learning materials available for the blind and vi. To overcome this situation, the project develops innovative and technologically adequate didactic materials to learn German language level A1 for Dutch-, English-, Italian-, Romanian-, and Turkish-blind and visually impaired speaking learners. The direct involvement of 3 schools and 1 association for blind, The Moray House of Education (Edinburgh University), which also provides training for vi students, and the adding partner agens Berlin, a well-known social service provider in Berlin for people with special needs, which joined the project later in July 2014, it guarantees the direct involvement of the target group in the testing phase of the course. Considering the wide application of the new technologies, we expect this system of flexible use of teaching/learning content to have a considerable impact. As the userinterface is designed to be also attractive to sighted learners, the impact goes beyond the group of VI students and will reach a wide audience.
6 2. Project Approach Language learning for blind or visually impaired people is generally a neglected area of education. Currently, the language learning on offer to visually impaired people is as young learners and this generally takes place in a special school or in the framework of a rehabilitation situation. The innovative approach of MoLLVIS lies in the fact that final products will be fully accessible for visually impaired students. In 2005, the project ALLVIP developed an interactive language course for blind and visually impaired people with a user interface for language learning that works without a screen reader, using force-feedback devices. ALLVIP was followed up the projects ELLVIS and VET4VIP. Both projects adopted the same approach, by improving technology and contents and created English course for visually impaired learners of different languages. So, the initial ALLVIP approach has become very stable and consistent in the last five years through the further implementation done within ELLVIS and VET4VIP. The provision of further accessible apps for mobile devices has the effect that the existing Windows-based language courses can be used on several devices like computer, smartphones and tablet of several systems. The innovative approach of MoLLVIS project is clearly described in the Course Specifications, a framework that forms the base for the later development of the whole project where are described the needs of the target group. MoLLVIS project plans to create apps for Windows 8, Apple ios and Android devices that play the existing courses, to be updated, improved and tested by blind and vi students of the involved special schools and associations and also by the involved language schools. The testing phase will be properly evaluated by University of Edinburgh, responsible also for the evaluation of the whole project, and the evaluation feedback will helps the consortium to refine and to define the final version of the German language course. This approach creating language courses for mobile devices that are not only accessible for vi learners, but also attractive to sighted students, especially young, who use mobile devices, increasingly popular. So, this approach not only widens our target group, it also provides language teachers with new means to easily include vi students in their classrooms. Also, the course permit to work individually while allowing the learner to define the own rate of learning. Last but not least, an alternative method in the classroom will certainly help limbering up German lessons, giving an added value to the learning of this language. This way the modules can bring new motivational input to visually impaired learners, giving in this way an added value to the language learning of this target group. The test run of the German course and the hospitality module should allow an effective exploitation of results within the partnership and its networks. A Common Dissemination Plan shared by all partners shall ensure a wide dissemination and exploitation of the project aims and results towards language schools for vi and sighted people, training institutions for blind and visually impaired people, distribution carriers like integration services, associations and for the blind, school authorities at regional and national level, or adult education associations. An accessible project website that informs about the project and provides the German language course is on line: A project logo, a flyer and a periodic newsletter have been also developed in order to give a wide visibility to the project.
7 The sustainability will be guaranteed in different ways: The German course and the hospitality module will be available for free as download from the project website (like the ELLVIS and VET4VIP courses) to ensure wide distribution. The project website will also provide the software to run the course on PC-based Windows systems. For mobile systems it is planned to distribute the language learning apps through the app store channels of the mobile device distributors. For the schools and institutions of the blind, the result will have a direct impact on their work, producing effects after the project s life. For the involved language schools the products will not only ease the inclusion of vi learners, it will also be a competitive advantage on the market. For the software company involved, the proposed apps and the authoring system provide income opportunities after the project s lifetime. Finally, the results of the project will be easily transferable to other language schools and geographical contexts (regions or states) through updating and translating of the contents in the new target languages. The technical framework of the course is designed in such a way that the implementation of new contents, additional modules and ICT features can easily be realized by the already named authoring system. Therefore, languages other than German can also be easily added.
8 3. Project Outcomes & Results The exchange between partners coming from different backgrounds, having different experience, expertise and expectations but who know each other, allowed to create until now successful outcomes and products within the MoLLVIS project, despite there are some deviations and some outcomes are still to be completed. In detail, outcomes and results obtained after 11 months of the project s life are as follows: 1. Course Specifications (pdf format) - This final outcome is a framework that forms the base for the later development of the whole project. It includes a separated Annex I titled Technical Specifications. This addendum contains technical specifications very useful for the implementation of the MoLLVIS German language course. 2. German Language Learning Course It is still in development. In this phase the deputy partners are working on the implementation of the language learning apps for the different operating systems: translation, creation and recording of the German course materials for the target languages Italian, Romanian, Dutch, English, Turkish using different types of voices (human professional voice, synthetic voice, human non professional voice). The first version of the course will be tested and finalised in all target languages within WP5. 3. German Hospitality language learning module for the job - Still in development. At the end of the 11 th month of the project life is ready a draft version to be shared with and checked by all partners. The first version will be tested and finalised in all target languages within WP5. 4. MoLLVIS apps for mobile devices a first demo version is ready for Android and it has been tested by partners and some blind and vi users. So far, we had positive feedback from VI testers and partners. 5. Authoring System for MoLLVIS apps it is still in development. There is a demo version that need to be tested. This output is late due to the later access to the project of agens Berlin (1 st July 2014), who have to role to implement this Strategic instrument for the implementation and the sustainability of the German language course after the project s life. 6. Evaluation report It has been done for the first 11 months of the project s life. 7. Project website: it is on line 8. Cycle-Oriented Project Plan 9. Project Reporting (intermediate report)
9 4. Partnerships The partnership consists of 11 partners in 5 countries - Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Romania, United Kingdom: 3 schools and 1 association for blind, 4 language schools, 1 professional software development company, the Edinburgh University, an ideal partner for the evaluation of the project results (especially as they also provided training for visually impaired students), and the adding partner agens Berlin, which joined the project later in July 2014, after the approval of an amendment request. This access was necessary to supply some specific technical competences for developing the German course (see details below). The partners know each other from former projects and know their expertise, limits and attitudes. Schools and Institutions for the blind and visually impaired: P1 (UICIFI), P3 (BFW), P6 (ANBBV), P8 (UEDIN), P9 (BO) These partners provide expertise with regard to the needs of blind-visually impaired learners and have to test and evaluate the language course. These schools have visually impaired students of all ages, which represent the main target group of the project. Without such partners it is not possible to create really accessible software. Language schools: P2 (CM), P4 (TH), P7 (CCGBV), P9 (CLS) These partners are experts in language teaching and have (together with the schools for the blind) already created language courses for visually impaired learners. They are working to update the ALLVIP German course and to create the hospitality module. Furthermore, they have to test and evaluate the language course within their institutions with sighted learners to ensure that the accessible user interface is also attractive for normal students. Software developer: P5 (GS) GedonSoft was the developer of the original ALLVIP software and is therefore the ideal partner to transfer the concept to mobile devices. P11 (agens) agens is a well-known social service provider in Berlin for people with special needs. 1 st July 2014 this adding partner has taken over programming and scripting of the MoLLVIS course, initially assigned to Tandem Hamburg, that was supposed to realise these tasks. Unfortunately, the person who was familiar with programming and scripting the course based on the ALLVIP technology left Tandem end of The partnership is based on mutual respect and full commitment to the WPs and objectives of MoLLVIS. Centro Machiavelli as Coordinator have the role to organise the partner-meetings in cooperation with the host organisation, initiating and concluding the project, ensuring the circulation of information and documentation, keeping in touch with the partners and realising the final documents for the project. All partners use all means of communication (phone, internet, etc.) in order to ensure that the project fulfil its mission. All partners contribute to bring in their experience within each WPs. Every package leader is accompanied by a tandem partner who has the special task of supporting the lead partner in his/her tasks and checking deadlines and results. The proposed project language is English.
10 5. Plans for the Future Having produced the Course Specifications Framework (Including the technical ones), drafted the basic structure of the German Language course and the Hospitality Module, the demo of the Authoring System, the focus of the project team for the second half of the project is centred on: 1. Refinement and programming of the whole course package and its annexes 2. Finalisation of the apps for Windows 8, Apple ios and Android devices 3. Realisation and evaluation of the test runs for the German language course 4. Evaluation and refinement of the language learning modules 5. Dissemination activities and planning of a sustainable exploitation of the results after the project s life 6. Final Report
11 6. Contribution to EU policies Learning languages is important in a common Europe also for blind and visually impaired and even for those pupils with combined sight-loss and learning difficulties. Since the education of blind and visually impaired pupils is heavily driven by the use of e-devices to make the education accessible and effective, this new and accessible way of teaching a language with all possible modern teaching devices like the computer, smart phone and tablet computer will give the target group a unique opportunity to learn a language and to be part of a multi-lingual Europe. Creating products for a special target group like blind and visually impaired people is never an easy task. The project and the partnership are benefiting from the exchange and transfer of different experience and backgrounds of schools from other countries. Although the partnership does not includes so many European countries, the transfer and exchange of knowledge, expertise and experience permit to create a product that could otherwise not be completed by a single institution. In this sense, the European cooperation between language schools and schools for the blind not only widened the horizon of both groups and gave ideas and stimuli for one s own work, but also stimulated the involvement and identification with the projects goals and aims, which were defined in the VET4VIP project: Access and Inclusion - Promoting Language Teaching for All. This cooperation has over time created a small European network of partners who believe in the projects and their products. In this sense, the MoLLVIS partnership is carrying on quite effectively the impetus of the former projects on a European level. Additionally, there are three other aspects of European added value: 1. The situation concerning language training is a universal problem for blind and visually impaired people and for language trainers. Therefore, the project's approach and products are valuable teaching means for special schools and language schools all over Europe. 2. Due to the lack of language training materials for blind and visually impaired people, teachers in schools for the blind often improvise and use existing materials at hand; very often text is transferred to Braille. Publishers are very reluctant to develop materials designed for blind people, and so these teachers rely on their experience, skills, and imagination to do their job. Language teachers of normal schools usually don't teach visually impaired people at all if they can avoid it. In this situation, language teaching for blind and visually impaired people is very individualized and in no way standardized. The project results that will be published at European level will thus encourage possible follow-up activities and the development of language learning standards for this particular target group. In addition, the project will offer chances of networking, opening gates to organisations and people across borders. 4. Last, but not least, the participants in MoLLVIS course will broaden their linguistic competence, and thus their understanding of obstacles and chances their specific situation offers. They will learn more than 'just a language' and will be connected with other European cultures and values. The course will reach improvement of mobility in Europe, a task particularly challenging for people with visual impairments.