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Math Materials in Large Print

Large Print Algebra or Geometry Textbook with high quality contrast for text, graphics, and pictures. All worksheets, reviews, tests, etc. should be either enlarged to the preferred size of the student, or regular print should be used with proper magnification in the form of a stand magnifier, glasses, CCTV, etc.

Basic Tools or Technology

The student will need Black Line Paper in a color contrast combination and line width suitable for individual student needs. A Desktop Computer or Laptop is also strongly recommended.

Large Display Scientific/Graphing Calculator Solutions

I have three suggestions:

  1. TI Graphing Calculator ViewScreen Enlargement Solution TI makes a ViewScreen package for the following calculators: TI-80, TI-81, TI-82, TI-83, TI-84, TI-85, TI-86, and TI-92. When I purchased the TI-82 with the following set-up, it was approximately $300. It has worked very well with my low vision students. They use a ViewScreen calculator connected to a ViewScreen LCD display panel placed on a light box. Call TI at 1-800-TI-CARES or e-mail at . They can give you a list of vendors from whom you can make your purchase. You’ll want to order the ViewScreen package, which includes a ViewScreen display panel (normally sits on top of any standard overhead projector), a ViewScreen calculator, a unit-to-unit cable, an AC adapter, a guidebook, and a carrying case. [You may already have this available as a teacher package.] Then you need a light box (instead of the overhead projector) for a light source to place the display panel on. I ordered mine from Logan Electric Specialty Mfg. Co. (See below.) However, we originally used an old Lite-Brite, removed the black panel, and replaced it with a translucent one. The entire ViewScreen package (as outlined above) and the Tru-View Light Box by Logan fit into the attractive and comfortably designed carrying case, and thus makes a light-weight easily portable package, which is very important for my students.

    An alternative solution might be to use a regular TI graphing calculator on a color CCTV. This has worked well for many students, and is an inexpensive solution if they already have a CCTV available for their use. This could be your first choice if the rest of the class is using a TI product. 

    Another alternative solution might be to use the TI-SmartView emulator software. This software is user-friendly and is based on the functionality of the TI-84 Plus family graphing calculators and is compatible with the TI-83 Plus family. It is only available to educators and is priced at $135.

    TI-CARES Educational Support Programs
    P.O. Box 650311, MS 3962
    Dallas, TX 75265
    Phone: 800-TI-CARES
    Texas Instrument ViewScreen Graphing Calculator packages can be a screen enlargement solution for low vision students. Borrow calculators, at no charge, for you to examine before making a purchasing decision.

    Logan Electric Specialty Mfg. Co.
    c/o Smith-Victor Corporation
    1268 Humbracht Circle
    Bartlett, Illinois  60103-1631 
    Tel  630.830.9200
    Fax 630.830.9201
    Website: or   
    Customer Service Contact:  Polly Stephen
    Tru-View Light Box can be used to backlight TI ViewScreens providing a convenient and effective way of enlarging the TI series of graphing calculators for low vision students.
  2. The Sci-Pod (formerly known as the VisAble) is the only large display scientific calculator made as a one-piece portable unit. However, it does not have graphing capabilities. It is manufactured by:

    Sight Enhancement Systems
    60 Bathurst Drive, Unit #17
    Waterloo, ON
    Canada N2V 2A9
    Phone: 519-883-8400
    FAX: 519-883-8405
    Sci-Pod Large Display Scientific Calculator

  3. If neither of the above meets your student's needs, I would suggest that you check out Scientific Notebook (SNB) (a software package). If the student has a laptop, SNB can be installed on it, and then you actually have a very portable device, which is more than just a graphing scientific calculator. SNB is also a math/text processor, so your student could do all of his assignments, calculations, and graphs in one document directly on the laptop. It has onscreen magnification up to 400%, or Zoomtext may be used. In addition, you can change the style to a different and larger font (up to 72-point), which will allow further onscreen magnification and large print hard copies. Download a free 30-day trial version. Purchase price: $148 schools or $99 student version. However, SNB contains a Computer Algebra System and is therefore not eligible for use on standardized tests (at least not in Texas).

    MacKichan Software, Inc.
    600 Ericksen, Suite 300
    Bainbridge Island, WA 98110
    Phone: 1-877-SCI-NOTE
    Fax: 1-206-780-2857
    With Scientific Notebook, create attractive documents with text, mathematics, and graphics, have it compute the solutions, import data from your graphing calculator, connect to the Internet and download documents.

Talking Scientific/Graphing Calculators

Talking Scientific Calculators

ORION TI-36X (Current price: $249)
Your student may prefer a stand-alone talking scientific calculator, and although there are many such calculators on the market today, the ORION TI-36X from Orbit Research is currently the most affordable and user-friendly. While it does not have graphing capabilities, it is easily accessible by totally blind students (unlike the TI graphing calculators), and features a built-in learning mode. The ORION's LCD display and functionality are identical to the TI-36X, so math teachers should feel very comfortable orienting the visually impaired student. The ORION TI-36X replaces the ORION TI-34, which is now out of production. It is more powerful than the ORION TI-34 and costs $249. I evaluated the new model, made suggestions which they followed, and they are now available for purchase.

Sci-Plus Series 300 Scientific Calculator with Speech (Current price: Not Available)
The Sci-Plus Series 300 is the only large display talking scientific calculator made as a one-piece portable unit. However, it does not have graphing capabilities. Sight Enhancement Systems manufactures it. Although most general education math teachers will be unfamiliar with the Sci-Plus, the various functions are easily identifiable, and a willing math teacher should have little difficulty orienting the visually impaired student to the Sci-Plus. This calculator is still in prototype, but it should be available to the general public soon. I'm not sure what the price will be, but I would suspect that the price will be more than the ORION TI-36X, but less than most of the other talking scientific calculator now available. I evaluated the prototype, and they are in the process of fixing the problems that I found.

Talking Scientific Graphing Calculator

Audio Graphing Calculator Version 2.0 (Current price: $295; Upgrade from 1.0 to 2.0: $145)
The Audio Graphing Calculator (AGC) from ViewPlus Technologies, Inc. is a self-voicing graphing scientific calculator software program. Unlike a hand-held calculator, it displays results through speech and sounds, as well as visually presenting numbers and graphs. This program is intended to have capabilities comparable to a full-featured hand-held scientific and statistical graphing calculator. The AGC is truly accessible for all students, and could be used for the entire class. The onscreen graphics are easily seen by a low vision student via an enlargement feature, and the graph can be listened to by using the sophisticated audio wave feature. Print copies can be made with any standard printer using a variety of fonts, including braille. The print copies with braille fonts can be copied onto swell paper and run through a tactile imaging machine. One of the best ways to use the AGC is with a TIGER Braille/graphics embosser from ViewPlus Technologies, Inc., but the TIGER is rather expensive. Although considerable time is typically needed for training a blind student to use the ACG totally independently, the math teacher is usually able to assist the student because it is so user-friendly for the sighted individual.

Drawing/Construction Tools

Drawing Board or Pad (to protect desk from compass point), Compass, Straightedge, and a Protractor.

I prefer the Braille/Print Protractor from APH. The student can easily draw an angle of a certain measure using the protractor and any pen or pencil. I also wrote the teacher's guide.

American Printing House for the Blind, Inc.
P.O. Box 6085
Louisville, KY 40206-0085
Phone: 800-223-1839, FAX: 502-899-2274

Measuring Tools

Large Print Ruler, can be of various lengths, should have metric and English markings. (Yard sticks and Meter sticks are also available.)

Braille/Print Protractor from APH is my preference. It can be used to measure angles.

Other possible sources for large print measuring tools:

Ann Morris Enterprises, Inc.
890 Fams Court
East Meadow, NY 11554-5101
Phone: 800-454-3175, FAX: 516-292-2522

Independent Living Aids, Inc.
27 East Mall
Plainview, NY 11803
Phone: 800-537-2118, FAX: 516-752-3135

The Lighthouse Inc.
36-20 Northern Boulevard
Long Island City, NY 11101
Phone: 800-829-0500, FAX: 718-786-5620

Maxi Aids & Appliances for Independent Living
42 Executive Blvd.
P.O. Box 3209
Farmingdale, NY 11735
Phone: 800-522-6294, FAX 516-752-0689

Student-Generated Algebraic and Coordinate Geometry Graphics

Large Print Graph Paper or The Graphic Aid for Mathematics from APH

Large Print Graph Paper is available from APH. They have various sizes. The teacher can also enlarge regular print graph paper or create graph paper to the student's exact specifications.

The Graphic Aid for Mathematics is excellent for graphing algebraic equations, but can be used in geometry as well, especially coordinate geometry. It consists of a cork composition board mounted with a rubber mat, which has been embossed with a grid of 1/2-inch squares. My students use two rubber bands held down by thumbtacks for the x and y-axes. Then points are plotted with pushpins at the appropriate coordinates. Points are connected with rubber bands (for lines) or flat spring wires (for circles and arcs). Sighted math teachers can even interpret the student-made graphs correctly. You can also make your own rubber graph board by affixing a piece of raised line graph paper (also from APH) to a corkboard and proceeding as outlined above. Many low vision students prefer this method to using print graph paper. The student can make this low tech tool high tech by taking a digital picture of each graph, which can be e-mailed to the math teacher.

Graph free software program

Graph ( is a free software program, which is suitable for students who are visual learners and prefer to use a mouse. Students can select the background color, font size, font color, axes color, axes width, axes font labels, line widths, line colors, etc. They can use Graph to graph functions and input (x, y) coordinates into a table for graphing. The Graph software is easy to use and contains the necessary features required for displaying algebraic functions and tables, and allows for visual modification.

Geometric Manipulatives

I am a firm believer in the use of manipulatives (for the sighted as well as the blind). The following manipulatives do not need to be adapted for the blind. I have accumulated mine over the years from various sources.

2-D Manipulatives are especially useful for teaching transformations (translations, reflections, and rotations) and similarity. I always have a box of triangles and quadrilaterals of different classifications close at hand and several regular polygons with five or more sides.

Paper Folding is extremely useful in teaching symmetry.

3-D Manipulatives are an absolute necessity when studying polyhedrons and other three-dimensional figures. In my experience, interpreting tactile 3-D drawings on a 2-D plane using perspective can sometimes be difficult for the average sighted person and thus more difficult for the low vision person. I have boxes of various 3-D solids including a tetrahedron, octahedron, hexahedron, dodecahedron, and icosahedron and right and oblique prisms, which are a little more difficult to find. A net is a pattern that can be cut out and folded into a three-dimensional figure (solid), and these can be either a great deal of fun or a matter of frustration for a low vision student depending on the student's spatial orientation abilities. However, some low vision students are even better able to conceptualize than their fully sighted counterparts.

A source for exceptional 3-D manipulatives is:
166 Springfied Blvd.,
Ancaster, L9K 1H8
Ontario, Canada
Phone: 905-304-7112
Hands-on System for Learning Three-Dimensional Geometry

Math Graphs Made by Others for Students

In addition to making clear, high contrast graphics in the appropriate size for the low vision student, I sometimes recommend the following types of graphics. In addition to being a form of tactile graphic, these graphics also provide a bold black line outline of each graphic. These can be especially beneficial to the student who is in the process of changing media, who uses both Braille and print media, or who simply prefers that their large print drawings also be raised line drawings.

Graphs Made using a Tactile Imaging Machine (or "Toaster") and "Capsule" Paper: easy for mere mortals (I am no artist.), quick, and of especially high quality for geometric graphics.

"Capsule paper is a special paper onto which hundreds of millions of thermally-foamed microcapsules have been uniformly coated. These thermally foamed microcapsules have been developed for the purpose of stereo printing. While moving through the stereo copier, the capsule paper is irradiated with light energy and black portions of the copy absorb the energy and swell outward to form a stereo (raised line) copy." - taken from the description of "Matsumoto's Stereo Copying System for the blind."

We use different types of "capsule" paper at the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired to make raised-line graphics. We have a Matsumoto's stereo copier from JP Trading because it was the first on the market. However, several other companies have since developed their own copiers and paper at a considerably lower price. The various "capsule" papers may be used interchangeably with different copiers; however, there is some variability in feel, durability, flexibility, cost, etc. We prefer the paper available from American Thermoform at the present time. This particular paper is whiter than some, and allows for an excellent black on white contrast for the low vision student. Angles and figure markings made with the "toaster" method come out uniform, crisp, and tactually clear and concise as well.

Below is a list of three sources of which I am aware and each company's specific name for their copier and paper:

American Thermoform Corporation
1758 Brackett Street
La Verne, CA 91750
Phone: 800-331-3676 or 909-593-6711 FAX: 909-593-8001
Swell-Form Graphics Machine, Swell-Touch Paper, and thermoform machines.

Optelec, US Inc.
3030 Enterprise Court
Suite C
Vista, CA 92081
Phone: 800-828-1056
Pictures in a Flash (PIAF), "capsule" paper.

Repro-Tronics Inc.
75 Carver Ave.
Westwood, NJ 07675
Phone: 800-948-8453, FAX: 201-722-1881
Tactile Image Enhancer, thermo paper, flexi-paper, and other tactile image enhancement products.

Talking Graphics have come of age. I list two such devices and the companies who produce them. These devices are especially useful for students transitioning from print to Braille, and those with certain learning disabilities, such as dyslexia.

TTT: Talking Tactile Tablet
Touch Graphics
330 West 38 Street Suite 1204
New York, NY 10018 USA
Phone: 212-375-6341
FAX: 646-452-4211
Contact: Steven Landau
The Touch Graphics Company has created a sophisticated Authoring Tool that allows teachers of blind and visually impaired students to create their own talking tactile pictures for the TTT, a new computer peripheral device. I was a member of the Teachers’ Design Collaborative and participated in the research and design process.

IVEO Software with Touch Pad
ViewPlus Technologies, Inc.
1853 SW Airport Avenue
Corvallis, Oregon 97333
Phone: 541.754.4002
Fax: 541.738.6505

ViewPlus Technologies has created the IVEO software and Touch Pad, which allows you to touch, hear, and see electronic documents simultaneously.

Prepared by:

Susan A. Osterhaus, M.Ed.
Secondary Mathematics
Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired
1100 West 45th Street
Austin, TX 78756
Phone: (512) 206-9305
Fax: (512) 206-9453