help : teaching Mathematics to visually impaired individuals? (fwd)

From: Mike Freeman (
Date: Tue Sep 10 1996 - 12:46:53 PDT

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From: Christian Harris <>
Newsgroups: misc.handicap
Subject: help : teaching Mathematics to visually impaired individuals?
Date: 07 Sep 1996 13:42:18 -0400
Organization: The University at Albany
Lines: 51
Message-ID: <>
X-Newsreader: Gnus v5.3/Emacs 19.33


I hope that this group is an appropriate place to ask this question. I
am a Teaching Assistant for a course called Discrete Mathematics,
which is sort of "mathematics for computer science majors". The
subject matter is entirely mathematical; we don't do any programming
in the course. The work is all pencil-and-paper, theorem/proof,
theorem/proof work. It is similar to first-semester calculus in the
amount of work that is assigned over the semester, and the subject is
very heavy on notation -- the lecture consists of about 80%
board-work. Thus, it is highly visual.

I have a person in my class who is blind. I would like to know if
there are any people out there who have taught visually impaired
people highly symbolic, traditionally visual subjects like
mathematics, and what methods you employed to convey what was on the
board. Also, if there are any visually impaired persons out there who
have taken mathematics or computer science courses, I would really
appreciate hearing about what methods work the best and your
perspective about this subject.

I have absolute confidence in my student's ability to comprehend the
material -- just in talking to him after the class, I got
the impression that he is brighter than the average student, highly
enthusiastic, and very proactive about getting help. I'm just worried
about communicating the material to him in a way that he can conceptualize.
Also, I have to strike a balance with the rest of the class -- I don't
want to be reading formulas off of the board like : "OK, what I wrote
is open-paren, open-paren, open-paren, negation symbol, x, close paren, ..."
because that will severely limit the amount of stuff that can be covered,
and hence harm the other students.

I'm a bit out of my depth with this situation, I think. I don't know
the first thing about how to teach visually impaired people. My rough
plan is to just conduct the class in the way that I would normally do,
and to try to describe what's on the board "good enough" to get the
message across to my student. But that won't help him do the homeworks
probably. Or will it? Other than trying hard to be considerate, nice,
and communicative about the course, I don't know what else to do.
Could anyone help me out?



Christian S. Harris                              Department of Computer Science
Graduate Assistant                                   University at Albany, SUNY                                             (518)-442-4286
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-- MIke Freeman | Internet: Amateur Radio Calsign: K7UIJ | */ PGP Public Key Available */ ... Experience varies directly with equipment ruined.

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