Program Mission and Goals

Math 4-7 Project Summary

Math Education for Children with Disabilities

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Introduction

The MathPad project was developed in response to a demonstrated need for students with physical disabilities to be able to work through the procedures for paper and pencil based computations.

Program Mission and Goals

Many of the mathematics education reforms are motivated, at least in part, by a concern for equity. One primary goal of mathematics education reform is providing all students with fair access to mathematics education. The purpose of this program is to support the goal of equal access to all students by providing a means for learners with physical disabilities to access meaningful and purposeful mathematics curriculum. Phase I development culminated with the successful publication and distribution of a software tool that allows students who can not access paper and pencil-based computation problems to perform algorithmic procedures utilizing the computer. During Phase II, this series of tools will be expanded to facilitate working with fractions, geometry, statistics, algebra, and appropriate manipulatives for the target population. Each software module is intended to be a flexible tool that is compatible with existing curricula and lessons.

All of these tools will accommodate the procedural element of problem solving or emulate the paper and pencil techniques employed by non-disabled students in the solving of procedural mathematics problems. The foremost aim is that the tools would enable students with a physical disability access to the rich variety of curricular experiences recommended by the NCTM including conceptual understanding, modeling, procedural skills, mathematical reasoning, and integrated problem solving for a broad range of topics.

These tools are intended to:

  1. Remove barriers that students with physical disabilities encounter while interacting with mathematics curricula materials
  2. Encourage students with physical disabilities to explore mathematical ideas using accessible electronic manipulatives which will enable them to link the concrete with the symbolic
  3. Provide opportunities for practice and instructional feedback to accelerate mathematics achievement for disabled students
  4. Improve the disposition of students with physical disabilities toward mathematics achievement
  5. Increase access to, and use of, computer-based mathematics materials by children with physical disabilities
  6. Increase the consistency of curriculum for learners with and without physical disabilities through integration of problem sets from popular texts

Products

MathPad is a highly accessible software tool that allows students with physical disabilities to perform basic arithmetic problems directly on the computer. The students must decide when to borrow, carry, or show a remainder. However, the software has built in features that carry out these functions with a minimum number of keystrokes. Teachers have also noted that MathPad is an ideal solution for students who have difficulty organizing math problems.

The software permits a student or teacher to set preferences to tailor the environment to the individual needs of a student. The program provides audio feedback to students in a variety of ways. The speech function can be enabled to speak the problem, row, entry, toolbar buttons, or any combination of these choices. To facilitate scanning and other alternative input devices, all commands and dialog boxes have a keyboard equivalent. A student may elect to scan the toolbar buttons using either step or automatic scanning. The text size and colors on the page are customizable including high contrast settings for students with impaired vision.

MathPad is currently available on both the Macintosh and the Windows operating systems. Both products are published by IntelliTools.

Sponsors and Partnerships

Funds for this project were made available by the National Institute on Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health, Grant #1 R43 HD33310-01. The products are developed by InfoUse in association with the Center for Accessible Technology in Berkeley. Additional development input was provided by the publisher, IntelliTools.

InfoUse Advisory Committee:

Sara Armstrong, Educational Visions; Rod Brawley, California State Clearinghouse for Specialized Media and Technology; Martha Coutinho, University of Central Florida; Ben Davis, Union Graduate School; Ken Funk, San Juan Unified School District; Devva Kasnitz, World Institute on Disability; David Landes, Computer Technologies Program; Jean Nandi, programmer; Deborah Sakuma, University of California, Berkeley.

Future Developments

Additional tools are under development to allow access to a broader range of the mathematics curriculum. When complete, this program will offer a suite of tools which allows access for students with physical disabilities to the critical elements of the middle school mathematics curriculum.

Email InfoUse for additional information regarding the MathPad suite of tools.

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