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Teaching Math to Students with Visual Impairments Gaeir Dietrich Director * High Tech Center Training Unit of the California Community Colleges * De Anza College Barbara Illowsky, PhD Professor of Mathematics & Statistics De Anza College

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Issues Will not see what you project on-screen or write on board Will not see what you project on-screen or write on board May have issues taking notes May have issues taking notes Will require alternate formats for reading and writing Will require alternate formats for reading and writing May require sighted assistance with writing and graphing May require sighted assistance with writing and graphing Will require extra time on tests Will require extra time on tests

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A LITTLE ABOUT VISUAL DISABILITIES

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Story: OMG a Blind Student! Don’t feel badly for being nervous! Don’t feel badly for being nervous! Even disability services can get nervous Even disability services can get nervous A few tips can help…and remember, learn from your student! A few tips can help…and remember, learn from your student!

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Basic Blindness Literacy Yes, you can say blind or “see you later”! Yes, you can say blind or “see you later”! Speak directly to the person Speak directly to the person Identify yourself to the person Identify yourself to the person Blind people may use braille…they very rarely know sign language (unless they are blind and deaf) Blind people may use braille…they very rarely know sign language (unless they are blind and deaf)

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When explaining things to a blind person Use very specific, concrete language. Use very specific, concrete language. –Avoid words like “this,” “that,” “here,” “there” –Especially avoid “thing” –“Get that thing over there” is a meaningless statement for a blind person. To show the person something tactually, ask the person if you may take his/her hand. To show the person something tactually, ask the person if you may take his/her hand.

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When giving directions to a blind person Make sure that you use specific language. Make sure that you use specific language. –Left/right –In front/behind –Degrees of a circle –Clock face –Compass directions Always give directions from the blind person’s orientation. Always give directions from the blind person’s orientation.

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VISUAL IMPAIRMENTS AND MATH Whatcha gonna do?

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What Is Often True Strategies that universally help Strategies that universally help –In-class note-taker –One-on-one tutoring –Access to electronic text –Extra time on tests –Talking calculators –Tactile graphing strategies

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Strategy? Blind strategy or sighted strategy? Blind strategy or sighted strategy? Students who used sighted strategies through junior high will probably always “think sighted” when it comes to math Students who used sighted strategies through junior high will probably always “think sighted” when it comes to math –Transition from sighted strategy to auditory/tactile strategy can be VERY difficult

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Low Vision Strategies Students with some usable vision will usually prefer large print Students with some usable vision will usually prefer large print May work on computer using enlargement software May work on computer using enlargement software Many prefer large paper and felt pen Many prefer large paper and felt pen Their strategies will be primarily visual, not auditory/tactile Their strategies will be primarily visual, not auditory/tactile

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Sight-free Strategies Strategies combine tactile and auditory Strategies combine tactile and auditory Auditory math strategies Auditory math strategies –MathML –LaTeX (only for “blind geeks”) –Chatty Infty (specifically for blind users) Tactile strategies Tactile strategies –Braille and tactile graphics

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Blindness and Braille Not all blind people read braille Not all blind people read braille –In fact, many CC students do not Knowledge of braille usually depends on age of vision loss Knowledge of braille usually depends on age of vision loss Not all students who read braille read Nemeth math braille Not all students who read braille read Nemeth math braille –As an aside; there are 7 braille codes

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Nemeth Is Linear Numbers Numbers –1234567890 –#1234567890 Symbols Symbols –x² + 2x + 2 = 10 –x^2"+2x+2.k #10

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Braille Options Brailing math is expensive and time- consuming Brailing math is expensive and time- consuming –Algebra books can cost $25,000+ –Calculus books can cost $50,000+ Consider “independent study” with a book already in braille Consider “independent study” with a book already in braille –www.atpc.net –www.aph.org

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INSTRUCTOR STRATEGIES How can you help?

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What You Can Do Order books as early as possible Order books as early as possible –Consider adopting a book for 3+ years Provide campus alternate media staff with electronic files for tests Provide campus alternate media staff with electronic files for tests Educate yourself about the issues Educate yourself about the issues Be creative Be creative Verbalize, verbalize, verbalize! Verbalize, verbalize, verbalize!

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Use Meaningful Words Use concrete terms Use concrete terms Meaningless! Meaningless! –“Here is the equation.” –“We start with the equation and factor.” –“Set both factors equal to zero and solve to get the result.” Avoid Avoid –This, that, here, there, thing

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Don’t just write it; verbalize it! –6x 2 = 53x + 9 –Subtract 53x and 9 from both sides –6x 2 – 53x – 9 = 0 –Trinomial factoring gives us –(6x + 1)(x – 9) = 0 –Set both factors equal to zero –6x + 1 = 0 and x – 9 = 0 –Solve each equation…etc.

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READING & WRITING MATH How to Do Homework

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Work with Disability Support Services Someone on campus can help Someone on campus can help –Alternate media specialist –Access technology specialist –Disability services director Please let those folks know they can call Gaeir! Please let those folks know they can call Gaeir! –HTCTU Secretary: 408-996-4636

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Math to the Student Audio Audio –Human narration MathML or MathJax MathML or MathJax –Can be read with MathPlayer or Chrome VOX –Text to speech Braille or large print Braille or large print Tactile graphics Tactile graphics

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Math from the Student Sighted scribes Sighted scribes Large print versions Large print versions Braille to text programs Braille to text programs Tactile solutions Tactile solutions

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GRAPHING Math Is Pictures, too!

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Story: Low-tech Solutions Are Okay (and even fun)! The value of manipulatives The value of manipulatives –Pipe cleaners –Wiki Stix

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Be Creative! Manipulatives Manipulatives –Many standard K-12 manipulatives work very well –Some may need tactile aspects added Collage Collage –Puff paint –Cut-outs –Real objects

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Other Tactile Strategies Magnet boards Magnet boards –Letters and numbers can be purchased –Symbols can be cut from magnetic sheets Corkboard for graphics Corkboard for graphics –Glue heavy thread (or architect’s tape) to make a grid –Push-pins and string for graphing

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Turning It In How do you turn in a graph done on a corkboard? How do you turn in a graph done on a corkboard? Take a picture with your phone! Take a picture with your phone!

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Commercial Tactile Aids Wikki Stix Wikki Stix –www.wikkistix.com Raised Line Drawing Kit Raised Line Drawing Kit –www.maxiaids.com Specialized abacus, protractor, etc. Specialized abacus, protractor, etc. –www.aph.org MathWindow MathWindow –www.mathwindow.com

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Tactile Diagrams: PIAF “Pictures in a Flash” “Pictures in a Flash” –www.humanware.com –Start with computer graphic, print, photocopy to PIAF (microcapsule) paper –“Toast” graphic

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CALCULATORS Math Machines that Talk

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Simple Calculators Lots of choices Lots of choices –www.maxiaids.com

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Scientific Calculator Orion TI-36X Talking Calculator Orion TI-36X Talking Calculator –Stats, algebra, geometry, trig, calculus –American Printing House for the Blind www.aph.org www.aph.org –MaxiAids www.maxiaids.com www.maxiaids.com

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Simple Software Calculator MathTrax MathTrax Works with screen readers Works with screen readers Free from NASA Free from NASA http://prime.jsc.nasa.gov/MathTrax/ http://prime.jsc.nasa.gov/MathTrax/

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Software Graphing Calculator Audio Graphing Calculator Audio Graphing Calculator –Computer software, talks –ViewPlus Technology www.viewplus.com –Note: Graphs can be printed and PIAF-ed

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ONLINE TEACHING CONSIDERATIONS

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Beware! Most math software is *not* accessible with screen readers Most math software is *not* accessible with screen readers My Math Lab (Pearson) is working on accessibility My Math Lab (Pearson) is working on accessibility –Many others aren’t even trying As faculty members, you have real power to help by expressing concern! As faculty members, you have real power to help by expressing concern!

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MyMathLab Note Not ALL problems are accessible Not ALL problems are accessible The accessible problems are marked with a symbol The accessible problems are marked with a symbol You cannot “fix” the inaccessible ones You cannot “fix” the inaccessible ones The graphing is not accessible The graphing is not accessible Pearson is working on it—talk to them for more info Pearson is working on it—talk to them for more info

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Learning Management Systems Most interfaces are fairly accessible Most interfaces are fairly accessible Documents must be accessible *before* uploading them Documents must be accessible *before* uploading them –Equations must be MathML or LaTeX Graphics need text descriptions Graphics need text descriptions Most chat systems are not accessible Most chat systems are not accessible Interactive whiteboards are not accessible Interactive whiteboards are not accessible

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OER Materials Most OER math books are PDFs, and the equations are graphics Most OER math books are PDFs, and the equations are graphics Computers cannot read graphics! Computers cannot read graphics!

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Story: Accessible Statistics Barbara’s OER Stats book is accessible in MathML Barbara’s OER Stats book is accessible in MathML (For an accessible stats calculation program, see R-Project for Stats: http://www.r-project.org/) (For an accessible stats calculation program, see R-Project for Stats: http://www.r-project.org/)

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Tips for General Interaction

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Feel free to contact us! Gaeir (rhymes with “fire”) Dietrich gdietrich@htctu.net 408-996-6047 * www.htctu.net http://accessiblemath.org/resources.htm Gaeir (rhymes with “fire”) Dietrich gdietrich@htctu.net 408-996-6047 * www.htctu.net http://accessiblemath.org/resources.htm gdietrich@htctu.net Barbara Illowsky illowskybarbara@deanza.edu (408) 864-8211 Barbara Illowsky illowskybarbara@deanza.edu (408) 864-8211 illowskybarbara@deanza.edu

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