Project Math Access

One solution to the challenge of providing more effective instruction in mathematics for students who are blind is better-trained teachers and rehabilitation specialists. If these individuals have confidence and the technical expertise to provide the necessary instruction, many more blind persons in the future will experience success and competence in the essential and critical area of mathematics.

Given the paucity of resources designed to help teachers remain current in methods and materials for instruction in mathematics for blind students, the following are sources of information which may be helpful. Catalogs of non-profit as well as for-profit organizations which produce materials and devices for use by blind students are a very useful source of information. The American Printing House for the Blind (APH), located in Louisville, Kentucky, is one of the nationâ€™s leading producers of instructional materials and devices for use by persons who are blind. Exceptional Teaching Aids (ETA) of Castro Valley, California is an excellent example of a for-profit corporation which provides an assortment of materials and devices.

Other excellent sources of materials are catalogs of teaching materials meant for use by sighted students. With the emphasis upon tangible devices for teaching mathematics, many potentially useful tools and materials which will require little or no adaptation can be found in these catalogs.

Consultation and brainstorming with teachers who specialize in mathematics instruction in the regular classroom can generate ideas for effective strategies and appropriate methods for instruction of blind students. Consultation with experienced teachers of students with visual disabilities who have established a record of achievement in their work is also an excellent source of valuable information and advice. Many of these individuals can be found in specialized, residential schools for children who have visual impairments. These institutions often employ individuals who have specialized in mathematics and who also have been trained in the special methods for instructing blind youngsters. Large, urban school districts are likely to have employees who are certified teachers of visually impaired students with extensive experience teaching older blind students who are required to complete advanced mathematics courses.

Colleges and universities usually provide services for students with disabilities; some employ persons who specialize in working with blind students on their campuses. Many of these specialists have discovered solutions to the difficulties faced by blind persons who must complete college level mathematics courses. Therefore, general education teachers who are specialists in mathematics, teachers of students with visual impairments who teach mathematics in residential schools or large urban school districts, and college disability services personnel, with their well-developed experiential backgrounds, can be a source of valuable assistance in solving some of the problems which may be faced by other teachers in their work with blind students.

A rapidly expanding source of information is the Internet. There are numerous websites which currently address mathematics and science issues specifically for students with visual disabilities. There are hundreds of sites which address mathematics in general. An exploration of this topic would yield countless additional sites and information or suggestions on particular areas of mathematics.

In order to provide effective instruction in mathematics, teachers need a broad base of skills and information in the concepts as well as potential adaptations and modifications in measurement, graphics, geometric designs, charts, figures, use of the calculator, compass, and protractor. lnservice workshops conducted by individuals who are knowledgeable in these areas represent another potentially valuable source of information.

A teacher who needs to review mathematics concepts can easily do so through the use of one of the many self-teaching guides available in bookstores. There are many books, widely available, which provide programmed instruction and review in specific subject areas, from algebra and geometry to statistics and calculus.