University of Edinburgh

Maths Early Years, Braille and Large Print

Presented in April 2005

Teaching Maths: Braille & Large Print The Early Years

Janis Sugden

Vision presents the world as a 3-dimensional picture, giving objects in reality, meaning and perspective. (p13 Show me what my friends can see)

The visually impaired child may have had a more restricted range of experiences than a fully sighted pupil and may thus have problems in acquiring concepts and understanding.

Lack of visual experiences will impede concept development.

NB this does not necessarily reflect the pupil’s intellectual potential.

  • Recent projects indicate that every child has their own way of developing arithmetical competence in spite of some common characteristics.
  • The child’s individual way of developing the parts to whole relation in numbers depends on his or her sensory experiences.

Understanding the other senses.
Throughout the first year eyesight provides a baby with information about the things s/he feels and hears.

Vision ‘tutors’ the brain about inputs from the other senses.

Video: How senses are integrated (the intellectual development of the child)

Now: Think how we need to consider the following aspects for VI children;

  • distance,
  • size,
  • colour/contrast,
  • visual characteristics,
  • luminance (reflecting or mirrored surface),
  • reducing visual crowding.

“Blind children perceive their surrounding environment in a different way than sighted children do” Yiannoula Andreou

The sense of touch cannot give information to the brain about relationships between objects as easily as the sense of vision.

Generally, there is no one single way but many individual ways in developing mathematical skills in blind children.

Ahlberg & Csocsan (1997, 1999)
Children learned to differentiate between the handling, meaning and understanding of numbers by using different methods and strategies.

All teachers involved in the teaching of maths and number to young VI children will need to take account of the following:

Additional time

  • To broaden the VI pupil’s experience
  • To consolidate this knowledge in order to ensure mathematical understanding.

Methods of recording

  • Need to be established and taught in a systematic way.
  • Layout of braille maths.
  • Accessing large print – slow careful spacing and planning of layout.
  • Does pupil need to complete a large number of examples of the same type?

Teacher intervention – process is more important than the product.

Self-organisation skills – Essential to promote independence and maximise learning.

Forward planning is important.

  • Class teacher
  • Teacher of VI
  • Learning support Assistant
  • Pupil

Hands-on experience is preferred when possible.

Adaptation of materials

  • Correct paper and writing materials
  • Diagrams carefully selected (appropriate size & style of print, paper, clear, uncluttered, good definition, etc).

Curriculum Close-up 13 Focus on Primary Maths

Alison Arnold, Advisory teacher for VI children in Gloucestershire has devised a list of essential maths equipment

link to pdf document

Skills necessary for Maths activities

  • Hand and arm manipulative skills necessary for maths activities
  • List suggested separately (Mathematics in the National Curriculum: Implications for Visually Impaired Pupils)

Sources and references

  • Basic Principles for Preparing Tactile Graphics. AFB
  • Teaching strategies collaborative/inclusive strategies
  • Curriculum close-up 13 focus on primary maths RNIB(link)
  • The Origin of Mathematical competence of children who are blind, ICEVI European Conference Cracow July 2000 (find proceedings)
  • The estimation of length, surface area and volume by blind and sighted, Yiannoula Andreou, School of Education, University of Birmingham & Konstantinos Kotsis Department of Ioannina (Vision Conference London April 2005)
  • Show me what my friends can see Patricia Sonksen and Blanche Stiff
  • Mathematics in the National Curriculum; Implications for VI Pupils, Support Network for Teachers of VI pupils, Northwest SEMERC (link to document)