3D Printing Might Be The Key To Teaching Blind Students About Sex

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The state of sex education in America already leaves much to be desired, but for blind students even more so. The textbook diagrams and classroom-approved films don't do much for those who can't see them, so researchers are working to find a solution with the help of 3D-printing.

Benetech, a social impact technology nonprofit, is working with researchers at Northern Illinois University and staff at San Francisco's LightHouse for the Blind to design 3D-printed body parts in hopes that they'll facilitate better sex education for the blind.

"Many of the kids who are blind, because much of the information is presented in photographs or videotapes, they miss out on key information that their peers are able to see," Lisa Wadors Verne, a Benetech program manager in education research and partnerships, told Fast Company.

After creating an initial set of models, researchers debuted them in a pilot program for blind students at Northern Illinois University.

"We want to test how much the student learned that maybe they wouldn't have gotten from just listening to someone talk about this out loud," says Verne. "The other thing we're going to try to parse out on this too is how valuable is this—how much would a teacher be willing to spend on a model like this."

More often than not, blind students attend schools with sighted peers, therefore their resources are often limited.

Right now, similar, commercially-available models of genitalia can cost hundreds of dollars. Provided the program receives positive feedback, their plan is to provide open-source files of the models so schools and educators would need only to pay for the materials and printing.
The gap between what we learned in sex ed and what we're learning through sexual experience is big — way too big. So we're helping to connect those dots by talking about the realities of sex, from how it's done to how to make sure it's consensual, safe, healthy, and pleasurable all at once. Check out more here.

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