3D-printing is letting blind students experience accessible sex ed for the first time.
Researchers created 18 3D figures that model sex organs during various states of arousal
They range from a flaccid penis to a dilated vaginal opening, allowing students to “feel” their way though sexual health lessons.
Studies show that 61% of blind adults or those with low vision say their vision status had a negative impact on the way they were able to participate in sex education.
It’s a gap advocates and researchers at Benetech, a nonprofit organization specializing in tech for good, set out to solve by creating these models of various penises and vulvas.
These models don’t only break sex ed barriers for blind children. Researchers say the models could make the instruction more meaningful for sighted kids, too.
The project’s goal is to eventually provide open-source 3D printing files for teachers. This means school districts would only have to finance the materials and printers to make the models.
Many experts predict the technology will become a staple for schools anyway. Once a school district owns a printer, 3D printing is a low-cost way to create models for classroom instruction, making it ideal for schools on a budget.
61% of blind or low vision adults say that their vision status had a negative impact on the way they were able to participate in sex education.
90% of blind students attend school with sighted children, relying on modified lessons to fully absorb material. But there are only about 61,700 blind students in the U.S. and commercial models of genitalia can cost up to $500 per model.
To develop prototypes, Benetech partnered with LightHouse for the Blind and Northern Illinois University, where the models were first tested on blind college students. The project was funded entirely by a Benetech donor.
Now in the second phase of the pilot program this spring, the models will make their ways into the hands of middle school and high school students.
By the end of the 2017 school year, researchers hope to have feedback from students on the current prototypes. Then they’ll release files with detailed printing instructions for classroom use.