School for the Blind Leads the Way in Accessible Math
Steve Noble, Accessibility Research Consultant (Guest Author)
Recently, the Washington State School for the Blind has had a bit of good press (School for Blind Leads the Way in Distance Learning) about their innovative distance learning work. The school won first place in the "Cutting-Edge Use of Technology for Learning" category of Microsoft's Partners in Learning U.S. Forum award competition.
Although the award recognizes the school's use of Microsoft's Lync distance learning software for blind students in the math classroom, that's only one aspect of the their cutting-edge use of technology for learning.
Beginning this school year, students at the school are using an accessible digital version of their Algebra 1 textbook created using MathML. As part of a federally-funded research grant led by Purdue University, students are reading their math textbook with the ReadHear™ DAISY player by gh in a distance education setting.
The school is also a pilot test site for the federally-funded research grant conducted jointly by Educational Testing Service and Design Science. The results of this research will provide students who are blind or have other visual impairments, the tools they need to learn, practice, and take math and science tests on par with their sighted peers.
By providing math students with accessible textbooks and an accessible testing environment--two very critical components of instruction--the Washington State School for the Blind is showing the world that math can be made accessible. We certainly want to congratulate the Washington State School for the Blind on their recent award, and commend them for their progress in math accessibility!
If you are interested in making the math in textbooks or classroom materials accessible to students with print disabilities, we have plenty of information available on our math accessibility pages.
Steve Noble is a research consultant with a core focus in mathematics accessibility and assistive technology. Currently he serves on grant-funded research projects with both the University of Kentucky and Bridge Multimedia, and previously served as Director of Accessibility Policy for Design Science.