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Authors : Kay Pruett (TSBVI) <> , Jim Allan (TSBVI) <>, Gerry Cocco, LASA Robotics coachThe DotBots - TSBVI Robotics Team

Poster Session, Saturday August 2, 2014 AERBVI conference, San Antonio, TX

It started as a question, "Could my kids do this???" and ended with a team of seven blind and visually impaired students (upper elementary and middle school students) competing on a level playing field in two FIRST Lego League (FLL) tournaments.

Events included Robot Performance, a Research Project and Presentation and a social skills exercise called Core Values.

Their co-championship team was the prior years Central Texas winner that advanced to the FLL World Championship.

Visually impaired students and teams will likely benefit from taking some specific actions to prepare for positive social interactions at a tournament. Tournaments have four formal areas of judging, but teams are also judged on overall performance throughout the day. When not in scheduled events, teams wait and interact with one another in the “Pit” (often a cafeteria).

The answer was absolutely "YES."


Pros and Cons

Why to Start a Blind and VI team:

  • phenomenal growth in social skills
  • improved academic skills
  • mobility improved
  • lots of fun
  • programming could lead to career
  • team becomes ambassadors with mainstream
  • show capabilities of blind/vi students in future world of robotics
  • opportunity for kids to make amazing growth
  • opportunity to change attitudes of future employers and coworkers
  • opportunity to interact with people with visual impairments on an equal footing
  • FIRST is a supportive and welcoming community
  • lots of training materials and resources exist
  • we have the VI accommodations sorted out on this site

Accommodations

Why NOT start a team

  • it takes dedication and time
  • it takes money - around $1000 (however, there are scholarships, grants and industry support available!)
  • training is available (see resources section)
  • need a space for a 4 foot x 8 foot - practice table
  • need a minimum of 3 kids, 5-6 is ideal, 10 is the maximum allowed 

Resources

FIRST® LEGO® League (FLL) has a large amount of online information on starting a team, running a team and taking a team to a competition. Our focus on these pages is to highlight the things you need to do above and beyond that for blind and visually impaired (VI) students. The links given here in "Resources" will point you to a few of the important starting points to learn more about FLL:

Start a Team

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