Locked Out of STEM

Over 375 million people have visual disabilities around the world. Few of them see opportunity to pursue futures in STEM. In the US alone, adults with disabilities comprise over 10% of the workplace, and over 2 million students have disabilities. Yet, only 5 percent of people with disabilities pursue post-secondary STEM degrees. Globally, participation in STEM shrinks even more.

Graphic image of a head containing the outline of a brain surrounded by a microscope, lab beaker, and math symbols

The Problem of Locked Content

The learning materials themselves are the barriers to STEM. Ninety-nine percent of STEM content has lived in print books, which are inaccessible to students with disabilities. Imagine studying mathematics when you cannot see the problems, or trying to learn physics when you cannot physically manage a book or turn pages. While the transition to online education has democratized learning for certain populations, it continues to leave behind students with disabilities because equations, graphs, and images in digital formats are as inaccessible as print.

Members of the World Blind Union stand behind a table containing books in chains

Costly Remediation

To fill the gap, educators, publishers, and content creators are remediating STEM content manually. This is both time intensive and costly. An average math book can take 3 to 4 months at a cost of $7,000. This approach is unscalable for both students and the people trying to support them.

Newton's cradle with one ball swinging

Unlocking STEM with PageAI

PageAI is a technology solution that converts inaccessible STEM content into inclusive learning materials for students with disabilities. PageAI identifies STEM content in books like equations, graphs, and images and transforms them into alternative formats like mathML. Powered by AI, the tool remediates inaccessible STEM content at scale, reducing time and cost associated with manual remediation and dramatically increasing the provision of learning materials for students with disabilities.

PageAI is an initiative of Benetech, a leading technology nonprofit and parent of the Bookshare online library. Through Bookshare, Benetech has solved the challenge of making the printed word accessible by transforming text into alternative formats that can be read by people with disabilties. With PageAI, Benetech turns to the next frontier of learning content – STEM.