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Teaching computational thinking through Biblos' tactile geometry

Published the 02/15/2023 08:00 

"Biblos 5 is a Braille Word processing and printing Software that offers many advanced features, including the ability to create tactile graphics for blind or visually impaired individuals. This feature is particularly useful for people who need to read graphs or diagrams, such as students, teachers, and professionals.

The environment for creating tactile graphics in Biblos is easy to use and offers many customization options. To get started, you can open a new tactile graphic project by selecting "Tactile Graphics..." from the "Tools/Braille" menu of the Software. Once the graphics environment is open, you can choose to draw with the Mouse, use wizard drawing Windows, or manually write vector drawing instructions.

Each Biblos tactile graphic is based on a set of vector instructions and a drawing-oriented programming language. The vector instructions are commands that allow you to create geometric shapes such as lines, circles, rectangles, and polygons. You can also add, remove, or modify these shapes using the drawing tools in the toolbar.

For example, if you want to draw a line with the Mouse, you can select the "Line" tool by right-clicking on the drawing area, then choosing "Line", and dragging the pointer on the sheet to draw the desired line. You can also change the size of the line, rotate it, and then fix it on the sheet. For full accessibility of the drawing tools, the same line can be drawn through the wizard insertion window, or manually by writing the instruction within the source code of the graphic.

It is also possible to add text, images, and symbols to tactile graphics using appropriate tools. For example, you can select the "Text" tool to add text to the tactile graphic, with the ability to modify its size, font type, and style using options in the wizard window or with the corresponding drawing instruction.

Once the tactile drawing is completed, it can be saved and printed using options in the menu bar. To this end, a Braille printer or a special tactile graphics printer can be used to print the tactile drawing.

The first version of the tactile graphics environment was introduced in Biblos in 2009. Since then, people with visual disabilities have finally had access to a tool that allows them to draw tactile graphics independently and autonomously. Until then, there was no Computer program that could meet the needs of these individuals, preventing them from creating maps, diagrams, and other types of graphics.

The ability to use tactile graphics to represent objects and geometric figures is a tool that lends itself particularly well to educational and school settings. Plane geometry is a part of mathematics that deals with the study of two-dimensional geometric figures, such as circles, squares, rectangles, triangles, etc. In teaching plane geometry, various educational strategies are used, including the use of concrete materials, graphic representation, and problem solving.

Tactile graphics is an educational methodology that involves the use of graphic representations of objects and geometric figures so that students can touch and manipulate them, thus promoting understanding and learning of mathematical concepts. This educational methodology is particularly useful for students with visual disabilities or those who have difficulty understanding abstract concepts.

In the school context, the use of Biblos Software for tactile and graphical representation of geometric figures can be very helpful for teachers and students. In fact, thanks to tactile graphics, students can better understand mathematical concepts and acquire a greater spatial awareness. Additionally, graphical and tactile representation can be used for problem-solving, creating drawings, and constructing geometric models.

The programming language of Biblos for drawing graphics includes some Logo programming language instructions, developed in the 1960s to promote computational thinking among children. In particular, Logo involves the use of commands for creating geometric figures, such as moving forward or backward, rotation, and repetition.

Logo is a programming language developed in the 1960s by Seymour Papert and other researchers at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), with the aim of teaching children computational thinking. Logo is based on creating commands for the movement of a graphical turtle on a screen, allowing users to create geometric figures and write programs that contain logical, mathematical, and algorithmic instructions.

Turtle graphics is a graphical representation methodology, used in Logo and other programming languages like Biblos, which involves the use of a graphical turtle that moves on a plane. The turtle is a virtual object used to create geometric figures by drawing lines or curves on the screen.

Turtle graphics is a way to make learning programming fun and interactive, as it allows users to see the results of their instructions in real-time. Thanks to Biblos, turtle graphics is also accessible to visually impaired students, as its results can be printed in tactile graphics. In this way, even students with visual disabilities can create geometric figures and develop problem-solving and computational thinking skills, on par with their classmates.

The programming language of Biblos and its turtle graphics are effective teaching tools for programming and geometry. Students can develop these skills in a fun and interactive way. Moreover, turtle graphics is particularly useful for teaching geometry, as students can explore geometric concepts such as angles, distances, and symmetry, creating figures of various shapes and sizes. The graphical and tactile representation of geometric figures allows students to better understand mathematical concepts and acquire greater spatial awareness, as well as develop creativity and problem-solving abilities, acquiring also useful digital and Computer skills for their future. Furthermore, the use of Biblos can be an opportunity for math teachers to innovate their teaching, making it more engaging and interactive for students.

In conclusion, Biblos, thanks to its accessible environment and wide range of tools, has offered those with visual impairments the opportunity to express themselves in a creative and professional way. In this way, Biblos represents a great step forward in technological accessibility, demonstrating how technology can be a means of social and cultural inclusion for all.

What makes Biblos so exceptional is its full accessibility to people with visual impairments, thanks to its design and development by the Italian programmer Giuseppe Di Grande, who is also visually impaired. Di Grande's vision allowed for the conception of Software that takes into account the real needs of people with visual impairments, without neglecting the quality and completeness of the functionalities offered. His personal experience ensured that every detail was designed to ensure maximum accessibility and usability of the program, from the intuitive interface to the full compatibility with the main reading tools for the visually impaired. In this way, Biblos represents a virtuous example of how the direct experience of those who experience the difficulties related to disability firsthand can be the key to developing innovative and inclusive technological solutions for everyone.

Today, Biblos represents an important resource for the educational world, but its social and cultural value goes beyond expectations, as its free availability democratizes access to information and culture for everyone, regardless of their economic conditions. In an era where inclusion and accessibility are central themes in society, Biblos stands out as a virtuous example of solidarity technology at the service of education and equality.

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