Saturday, 18 October 2014

Teaching Math to students with a profound vision impairment

Teaching Math to students with a profound vision impairment

This post contains resources particularly useful to math teachers of students with a profound visual impairment- such that they use screenreaders or braille. As math is a somewhat abstract subject that is largely taught and learned visually- Math teachers and ISTV's often need to make more substantive changes to their resources and teaching styles to accommodate students who are blind- the inconsistency in braille math codes further complicates the process as American Technological resources that facilitate print-to-braille and braille-to-print solutions are unable to be used by Australian students who use a different braille code.

  Resource  Description

Textbook: Mathematics Made Easy for Children with a Visual Impairment

This textbook is a Math teacher's one stop shop for strategies for teaching math to visually impaired people. It is comprehensive and of excellent quality and is the result of an international effort primarily between American schools for the blind and Asian schools such as the Nippon Foundation. The only drawback for Australian teachers is that the Braille Code it uses is the Robust Nemeth code rather than Universal English Braille which is typically what Australian students with visual impairment use for Math. However, this is still a sterling resource.

Many of our students with low vision have success using Unicode characters for equations- unicode is a computer math code that has symbols that can be understood by both a screenreader (with some tweaking) and by a sighted math teacher- giving students and their math teacher a common language for mathematics, there are many unicode characters, this is just a cheat sheet with the more common operators to get started.  Teachers can use these codes in Word Documents to present math to students, and students can solve and represent their answers to the teacher using unicode.  Unicode typically is accomplished by holding down the ALT key and typing a 3 or 4 letter code- once students have the ALT code memorised they can quickly represent math. 

My Math Flash Cards App
cost: free

A common struggle when teaching math to VI students is supplying accessible revision questions that students with a Vision Impairment are able to complete in a similiar timeframe as their peers, this accessible flash card app enables teachers to set sets of multiplication, division, addition and subtraction questions.

Mathemagics- Mental Math Tricks (0.99)

Mathamagics is a great tool for teaching certain skill-sets within the discipline of mathematics and is completely accessible for blind students. Students can challenge each other with a level playing field, learn tricks and techniques such as multiplying by up to 19, evenly divide, square numbers and casting out. 

- the notepad calculator

Soulver provides a 'thinking' space for students to represent their math and solve problems, complete with an accessible calculator and accessible workspace, this is a fantastic tool for a math student to organise their thoughts and completely accessible to blind students, absolutely fantastic for Algebra, percents, fractions etc. 


Formulas allows VI students to expore the math of shapes and graphs, solving quadratic equations as well as other fformulas such as surface, area, volume etc. 

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