Cornell Students Improve Math Accessibility for Students with Disabilities

A team of Cornell students, part of the educational company called AI-Learners, is developing computer games to make math more accessible to students with disabilities and is now competing across the country for critical funding to make it happen. of their goal.

AI-Learners develops electronic games for students with physical, cognitive and behavioral disabilities. Their website includes games that teach various math skills, such as addition, subtraction, and shapes.

For their founder, Adele Smolansky ’23, AI-Learners’ mission is personal. Her younger sister, Lara, was born with Rett syndrome, a neurological disorder. Smolansky wanted to create a tool to help his sister learn math. After speaking with Lara’s therapist, who suggested that a new electronic game would be helpful, Smolansky began learning to code.

Smolansky first tried making these games in high school, but realized she didn’t have the necessary coding experience. During the summer of 2020, at the start of the pandemic, she decided to collaborate with other Cornell students to relaunch the project.

Kylie Grinwald ’22 is Vice President of Operations for AI-Learners. She became interested in joining the team after resonating with Smolansky’s goal.

“As a first-generation student, all of the causes related to making learning accessible to a broader population of learners are very compelling to me,” she said.

To best tailor the website to the needs of families of students with disabilities, Smolansky and his team conducted trials with parents and educators while developing the product.

“We talked to them about what they liked and disliked about these [other educational game] platforms,” Smolansky said. “Then through that, we created designs.”

The website uses several different features to specifically help students with disabilities. When a student is playing a game, they cannot begin until the instructions are read to them. Additionally, games are intentionally slowed down to accommodate the needs of students who learn best at different paces.

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