Development of a Mathematics Training Package for Teachers Working with Blind Students
The Mathematics project, supported through the Higher Education Project by The Nippon Foundation, hopes to unlock the often hidden potentials of blind learners by building upon existing resources and developing a comprehensive package of training modules that will assist classroom teachers in learning how to create appropriate instructional adaptations that will make the learning of mathematical concepts easier and more enjoyable for blind learners, as well as their sighted classmates.
In 2003, ICEVI and the Overbrook-Nippon Network on Educational Technology, (ON-NET) brought out the publication “Mathematics Made Easy for Blind Children” with the assistance of The Nippon Foundation and this publication is used by classroom teachers in many regions of the world to teach visually impaired children. Initially, hard copies of the publication were made available to teachers within the region and as demand increased a free download of the publication was made available on the ICEVI website to encourage teachers and visually impaired children to place more attention on the area of mathematics instruction. This publication is widely used today throughout Asia and beyond and has been translated into a number of additional languages.
Yet despite its popularity the publication, in its current form, does not fully addressed the needs of teachers who still struggle with how to effectively modify instructional strategies to make abstract math concepts understood by a child without sight. The need for video lessons was expressed by many teachers and parents who used the Math publication as a tool for teaching visually impaired students. This issue was discussed by the ICEVI Executive Committee on a number of occasions.
The ICEVI EXCO endorsed proposal to develop mathematics video packages with Dr. M.N.G. Mani as the Project Director. The project started in late 2016 with preparation work involving a core team consisting of representatives from ICEVI, the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (TSBVI), Perkins School for the Blind and the ON-NET. The core team met at the Texas School for the Blind in late 2016 and provided a broad framework for the project and also suggested the formation of a small academic team, which would expand into a global team as the project progresses.
A meeting of the Academic Team consisting of M.N.G. Mani, Susan Osterhaus (USA), Derrick Smith (USA), and Sara Larkins (USA) met in December 2016 and suggested the following key aspects.
- Though the video packages are primarily helpful for preparing teachers to teach mathematics effectively to visually impaired children, the lessons may also be developed as learning materials for visually impaired children. Therefore, the materials used for demonstration should address accessibility issues such as color and contrast for the benefit of low vision children and use of the correct textures for blind children.
- Members agreed to prepare sample video lessons for the following topics which could be reviewed at the next meeting of the academic team.
||Title of the topic
||Prime and Composite numbers
||Addition of integers
||Comparison of fractions
||Laws of indices
||Central tendency and Mean
||Multiplication of polynomials
||Sum of the three angles of a Triangle = 1800
||Sum of the four angles of a Quadrilateral=3600
||Angle formed on a semicircle = 900
||In a circle the angle subtended at the centre is twice that of the angle subtended
at the circumference
||Angle in a minor segment is obtuse and Angle in a major segment is acute
In addition to the above samples assigned to the Academic team, a technical team in India is also preparing sample videos for about 20-30 concepts and these samples will be ready by the end of September 2017.
The project is expected to produce approximately 150 video packages by early 2020. The Technical Team in India that includes special education experts who teach Mathematics to visually impaired students, subject experts on Mathematics working in Universities and also at the Regional Centre of the National Institute for the Visually Handicapped (NIVH) is developing sample video lessons for about 20-30 concepts and therefore, about 40-50 sample video lessons will be prepared by the end of the 2017. These will then be shared with the Academic and Core team of the Mathematics project.
The Project Director is also in touch with experts in different regions of the world to form a global academic team, which will assist in the development of video lessons once the sample video lessons are reviewed and guidelines prepared for further production of the lessons.
Expected outcomes of the project
The project is expected to develop video packages for the following topics, which will be useful in training teachers of mathematics. Each topic may have a single or multiple video lessons depending on the content.
- Rational Numbers
- Four Fundamental Operations
- Tests of Divisibility
- Measures of Area
- Measures of Volume
- Measure of Time
- Algebraic Concepts
- Laws of Indices
- Algebraic Identities
- Geometry – Circle
- Various Geometrical concepts
- Simple Interest
- Venn Diagram
- Binary System
- Rectangular Coordinate System
- Analytical Geometry
We believe that the video packages prepared for the above topics will be of great assistance to teachers, teacher educators and mathematics faculty in higher education facilities serving blind students. It will certainly be a major step forward in improving mathematics education for blind children everywhere and ICEVI thanks The Nippon Foundation for extending support for this project as a component of the Higher Education continuum.