The Robotics Institute

RI | Seminar | November 7, 2006

Robotics Institute Seminar, November 7, 2006
Time and Place | Seminar Abstract | Speaker Biography | Speaker Appointments

A Braille Writing Tutor to Combat Illiteracy in Developing Communities


Nidhi Kalra                                                        Tom Lauwers

Ph.D. student                                                    Ph.D. student

Robotics Institute                                             Robotics Institute


Time and Place

Talk 11:00am


NSH 3305




We present the Braille Writing Tutor project, an initiative sponsored by TechBridgeWorld to combat the high rates of illiteracy among the blind in developing communities using an intelligent tutoring system. Developed in collaboration with the Mathru Educational Trust for the Blind in Bangalore, India, the tutor uses a novel input device to capture students' activity on a slate and stylus and uses a range of scaffolding techniques and Artificial Intelligence to teach writing skills to both beginner and advanced students. We conducted our first field study from August to September 2006 at the Mathru School to evaluate its feasibility and impact in a real educational setting. The tutor was met with great enthusiasm by both the teachers and the students and has already demonstrated a concrete impact on the students' writing abilities. Our study also highlights a number of important areas for future research and development which we invite the community to explore and investigate with us. 


For more information and videos:


Speaker Biography


Nidhi Kalra is a fifth year Ph.D. student at the Robotics Institute. She is keenly interested in applying technology to sustainable development and in understanding related public policy issues. Nidhi hopes to start a career in this field after completing her Ph.D. Her thesis area of research is in multirobot coordination and she is advised by Dr. Anthony Stentz. She has an MS in Robotics from the RI and received her BS in computer science from Cornell University in 2002. Nidhi is a native of India.


Tom Lauwers

Tom is a fourth year Ph.D. student at the Robotics Institute. He has a long-standing interest in educational robotics, as both a participant in programs like FIRST and later as a designer of a robotics course and education technology. He is currently studying curriculum development and evaluation and hopes that his study of the educational sciences will help him design better and more useful educational technologies. Tom received a BS in Electrical Engineering and a BS in Public Policy from CMU. 


Speaker Appointments


For appointments, please contact Nidhi Kalra (

The Robotics Institute is part of the School of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University.