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For Immediate Release


Al Renshaw
Phone: 1-800-577-9040
e-Mail: Al Renshaw


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania - July 11, 2006, Quantum Simulations, Inc., a developer of artificial intelligence (AI) tutoring and assessment software, was recently awarded a $100,000 Phase I grant from the U.S. Department of Education Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) Program to research and develop accessible AI tutoring software for middle-school mathematics students who are blind or visually impaired.

The six-month feasibility study will focus on the topic of measurement and involves the creation of an accessible interface that supports synthesized speech screen-reader technologies such as JAWS and Window-Eyes. Because the Quantum Tutors® are web-based and equipped with a unique dialogue-driven tool that converses with students online, the software is well-suited for screen access technologies and can be adapted to meet the requirements of the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) Nonvisual Accessibility Web Application Certification Program.

The research will also explore the pedagogy of Quantum's AI software to ensure that feedback and examples provided by the Tutors are effective in providing an accurate mental picture of key mathematics concepts for blind students. For example, to improve estimation skills, one exercise will allow students to use a Braille meter stick or other tactile ruler to measure an object and enter their calculation into the Tutor. The student can then ask the Tutor questions and explore mathematics concepts related to recording, interpreting and estimating measurements.

To help address the usability and pedagogy requirements for the research project, Quantum® has partnered with Mr. Jeff Dittel, a blind software engineer and president of Britlan, Ltd., a software consulting company specializing in accessibility issues.

"Building a solid foundation in core mathematics skills is critical for career opportunities in scientific and technical fields where opportunities for the blind have previously been limited," stated Dr. Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind. "Bringing innovative technologies to education will have a measurable impact in providing equitable mathematics education for all students."

"Similar to including accessibility features such as wheelchair ramps in the architectural plans of a new building, accessibility has become an integral part of our software development process," explained Dr. Benny Johnson, President and CEO at Quantum®. "With the Quantum Tutors®, all students, whether blind or sighted, can access and benefit from the same AI tutoring software."

About Quantum®
Quantum Simulations, Inc. develops artificial intelligence (AI) tutoring, assessment and professional development software that empowers teachers and inspires students from middle school through college to improve their knowledge and appreciation for the sciences. Teacher tested and approved by educators across the United States, Quantum's AI software is proven in research studies to improve comprehension, problem solving skills and test scores by as much as 50%. Quantum's intelligent tutoring engines are integrated with existing web-based learning products, providing a strong competitive edge for distributing partners. A "technology think tank," Quantum® is funded and supported by the U.S. Department of Education, the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health. For more information, please visit www.quantumsimulations.com.

About the SBIR Program
SBIR is a highly competitive program that encourages small business to explore their technological potential and provides the incentive to profit from its commercialization. By including qualified small businesses in the nation's R&D; arena, high-tech innovation is stimulated and the United States gains entrepreneurial spirit as it meets its specific research and development needs. For more information, please visit www.ed.gov/programs/sbir/index.html.

About the National Federation of the Blind (NFB)
With more than 50,000 members, the NFB is considered the largest and most influential membership organization of blind people in the United States. The NFB improves blind people's lives through advocacy, education, research, technology, and programs encouraging independence and self-confidence. For more information, please visit www.nfb.org.


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