Open the Math Gateway for Blind Students

Mathematics has a notorious reputation as the most difficult subject in school. While many people might debate this claim, few could debate that learning the complex language of math is significantly more difficult for blind students.

Entitled Using VP Arithmetic, VP Algebra, Virtual Learning Communities, and Individualized Instruction to Open the Math Gateway for Blind Students the project will employ a technology-rich approach to increase the math proficiency of blind students. Funded by The U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services and conducted by the UW-Madison’s Center on Education and Work, the project will:

  1. Prepare 10 blind middle and high school students, their parents/guardians, and teachers (math, vision, other special education) to use the Virtual Pencil (VP) software that is specifically designed for blind persons, but completely accessible to sighted persons without modifications.
  2. Embed the use of the VP software within a comprehensive instructional support strategy.
  3. Measure the feasibility and educational impact of this approach.

In meeting these goals, the Center on Education and Work will establish and support an interdisciplinary Math Skill Development team for each participating student, and provide the students and teams with the necessary computer software and software training. Two “online communities of practice” (one for teams with students whose math skills range from 2-6th grade levels, the other for teams with students whose math skills are 7th grade or above) will also be established. Evaluation data will be collected, analyzed, and interpreted, with the results disseminated nationwide.