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Impact of Restricted Development of Mathematical Skills

Insufficient preparation in mathematics has a profound effect upon blind persons. The disadvantages in daily life are numerous, including difficulties and unnecessary limitations in normal tasks of daily life as well as educational and occupational opportunities. While it is commonly agreed that the level of mathematics achievement required for daily living is not high, many blind persons, in reality, are functionally illiterate in mathematics. For example, it is not uncommon to find persons who are blind or severely visually disabled who cannot determine the correct change which should be received when making a purchase, calculate the amount of interest one might pay on a loan, or add one-half cup and three-fourths cup to accurately measure ingredients in a recipe. Given “real life” tasks, many cannot choose the basic mathematics operation or combination of operations to solve a common problem.

Inability to achieve in mathematics has a deleterious effect upon educational opportunities afforded to blind persons. Most entrance examinations contain a quantitative subtest. Scores from that subtest are included in the calculation of the overall score, representing the examinee’s performance and aptitude. If fundamental mathematics skills are poorly developed, then the general aptitude score will be depressed, impeding entrance into higher education or professional programs. In a modern technological society, well-honed quantitative skills are very important. Because most persons who are blind have poorly developed mathematics skills, they tend to avoid technical areas of employment. In fact, many technical areas are closed to them because they are unable to demonstrate the fundamental level of mathematics competence necessary for entrance into such fields.

In summary, these are the reasons why it is so important to improve the effectiveness of mathematics education for students who are blind.