Main content

Alert message

Article citation: Osterhaus, S.A. (2003). Susan’s math technology corner: Back-2-School: What's new and what's improved. Division on Visual Impairments Quarterly, 49(1), 5-8.

The Accessible Graphing Calculator (AGC)

screen shot of AGC showing 2 line functions in graphing windowTwo new additions have been made to the AGC since I first wrote about this self-voiced computer software program (Osterhaus, 2002). The user can now graph two functions on the same coordinate plane, and work with matrices.

Being able to graph two functions at the same time allows the study of parent functions, finding the solution of certain systems of equations, and even graphing some non-functions, such as a circle.

agc-matrixThe Matrix Tab Page has only one edit box into which one enters matrix expressions and in which the results are displayed after evaluation. Matrices may be added, subtracted, and multiplied. A square matrix may be inverted with the inv function. The determinant of a square matrix may be obtained with the det function.5-Point Star: $99

The new downloadable AGC is priced at $99.

http://www.viewplustech.com

TIGER Embossers

Tiger- tractor feed modelTiger - stack paper modelViewPlus Technologies has created a whole new family of Tigers. Tiger Embossers now do interpoint. They can automatically interlace tactile graphics. Tigers even let you choose stack paper or tractor media, or both. Create your tactile math graphics using the AGC or Microsoft Word's Drawing Toolbar and send them to a Tiger. You can now choose from the Tiger Pro, Tiger Max, Tiger Cub, or Tiger Cub Jr. Prices range from $9750 to $3999.95. http://www.viewplustech.com

Mimio

  • mimio attached to white board with laptop computer mimio Xi - the portable and affordable device that turns any whiteboard into an interactive whiteboard. Simply attach mimio Xi to any standard whiteboard, connect to your PC and everything that is written or drawn is instantly recorded - in color and real-time so that it can be saved and shared with students, parents, and colleagues (like the VI teacher). With the VCR-like playback feature, students can rewind and replay notes, stroke-by-stroke, at their own pace. With the zoom feature, visually impaired students can magnify a word, equation, or diagram to the desired size. mimio parts - 4 pens, horizontal and vertical sensors.Diagrams can also be sent directly to a Tiger Embosser; however, any labeling will be in raised handwriting - still pretty good for "quick and dirty" feedback. $799
  • mimio writing Recognition software - convert handwritten notes into ready-to-edit text (which can be easily converted to literary braille - not Nemeth yet). $99
  • mimio boardCast software - add audio to your notes. $199
  • mimio classRoom software - share notes with students in real-time over your network. $99
  • mimio carry case - ideal for taking mimio from class to class and on the road. $59
  • mimioBoard - combines the mimio technology with a high quality, porcelain on steel whiteboard. $1199 http://www.mimio.com

Virtual Pencil

screen shot of virtual pencil.This is a computer software program that can be used to interactively solve a math problem. The software does the job of the pencil. It moves to the right spot on the "paper," guided by the user, and inputs the answers that the user selects. When used with a screen reader, the numbers and actions are read aloud. The user must navigate the screen and provide the input. The current product handles addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. You can download a demo, or purchase it on-line for $99. Future versions will include higher levels of math: algebra, trigonometry, differential equations, and calculus. http://www.hentermath.com

Nemeth Reference Chart

This new set of Nemeth Reference Sheets from National Braille Press is formatted like a calendar. It can be hung on a wall or laid flat on a desk. Each page lists Nemeth symbols in print, braille, and ASCII formats followed by examples of how to use these symbols. It includes braille indicators, basic arithmetic, geometry, algebra, advanced math, alphabets, and miscellaneous symbols. It is available in print only for $14.95. http://www.nbp.org

Twist & Shout Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication, & Division

I evaluated the Twist & Shout Multiplication version, and I'll have to admit that I found it to be quite a fun way for children to learn their multiplication facts. This version has a volume control and earphone jack, which is highly desirable. While children love the "cool" catchy music and persistent male voice, most adults will be pleased to know that there is also an automatic shut-off. I needed assistance installing the batteries, but decided this was a good safety feature! Although some of the games can be played without using vision, unless the child can read the print raised numbers, they should be brailled. http://www.leapfrog.com and http://www.independentliving.com

Coin Abacus

Money counting is made fun and easy with this user-friendly totally accessible game. Slide the realistic coins and bills from left to right, and the new total is both read and displayed on the LCD screen. When a coin or bill is moved back to the left, the amount is subtracted from the total and the new total announced and displayed. Two challenging games announce a target amount, which the child needs to match. The quarters, dimes, nickels, and pennies are sized correctly and are excellent facsimiles, whereas the dollar bills have been miniaturized. However, all the coins have "ridges" on their edges. I wish the pennies and nickels had smooth edges, as some visually impaired children rely on the "ridges" to distinguish pennies from dimes. Nevertheless, the descending value arrangement and correct sizing of the coins should give most children all the clues they need. If not, simply glue the "real" coins on top of the fake coins. The Coin Abacus features a headphone jack, batteries, AC adapter jack, and automatic shutoff.http://www.parentbanc.com and http://www.independentliving.com

Talking Cash Register with Scanner

I was really excited about evaluating this item. In theory, it's a wonderful teaching tool. Children can learn how to make purchases, use the register's calculator to compute totals, make change, scan bar codes, use a credit card, and even make announcements over a microphone. However in practice, I encountered several problems. I had difficulty lining up the scanner with the bar codes - a very visual task. Once I did line it up properly, it often announced the wrong price. (Of course that happens at a real store too!) The microphone did not amplify my voice, although it did make that wonderful funky sound when you blow into a real mike. The cash drawer kept sticking every time I pressed the Open key. I patiently kept trying to limber it up, but then when it occasionally did open, it snagged on the bar code scanner cord. The play money was very realistic in size and features, including ridges only on the edges of the quarters and dimes. However, the weight and feel of real money wasn't there. I would have replaced the fake money with the real thing, which could be easily done. If everything had worked as advertised, it would have been an excellent learning tool. I'm sure we could have even resolved the bar code scanning problem. I searched the Internet and determined that others had similar problems to mine, but they said that the kids still loved playing with it for hours on end. Ah, to be young again and enjoy the magic of make believe! http://www.independentliving.com

Reference

Osterhaus, S.A. (2002). Susan's math technology corner: The Accessible Graphing Calculator (AGC) from ViewPlus Software. Division on Visual Impairments Quarterly, 47(2), 55-58.

Susan A. Osterhaus
Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Phone: 512-206-9305
E-mail: