Cary Supalo, Ph.D.
Cary Supalo has been an active member of the National Federation of the Blind since graduating from high school in 1993. The discovery of a nationwide network of blind persons inspired him to want to be all he could be. Through support from friends and faculty members at Purdue University, he was encouraged to study chemistry. The passion that developed for chemistry was further facilitated by his involvement in the Alpha Chi Sigma fraternity in 1997. After graduating with a BS in Chemistry from Purdue in the spring of 1999, he started graduate studies at Penn State that fall. Cary obtained his Masters of Science degree in Chemistry from Penn State in December 2004.
Through his involvement in the National Federation of the Blind, he had opportunity to hold a number of leadership positions in several states, some of which involved working and mentoring other blind and visually impaired students. His loves are helping blind students expand their comfort zones, assisting them to stretch their minds to go beyond societal limitations placed on them since birth, and encouraging them to strive to follow their dreams. Putting the Federation philosophy, which states that through proper training and opportunity, a blind person can reduce blindness to being nothing more than a mere nuisance, into practice is a driving force behind his career.
Cary's Ph.D. thesis project is a National Science Foundation funded project from the Research in Disabilities Education (RDE) where he is developing accessible tools and techniques to assist blind students in performing high school level chemistry laboratory experiments. Taking widely available lab probes and their software interface and making them accessible via speech output eliminates the traditional passive role of previous generations, i.e., a sighted assistant simply describing and reading data values as they are obtained. It is his hope that this will encourage blind students to want to study science and pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). He uses a software interface called Logger Pro, which allows a student to use a hub device to which they can plug in multiple lab probes such as thermometers, pH meters, and conductivity detectors, among numerous other tools. Having these tools coupled with the JAWS screen reader software will allow for blind students to more actively interface with their data collection experience. This is Cary's current passion of opening new doors of opportunity for blind students in the chemical sciences.
Read the interview with Cary Supalo
Articles by Cary Supalo
"Blind Students Can Succeed in Chemistry Classes," Future Reflections, Summer/Fall 2002.
"The Variables of a Blind Person's Math Experience," Braille Monitor, July 2005.
"An Unplanned Walk in the Blizzard," Not Much of Muchness.