1. Assisting Teachers in Understanding Assistive Technology: What Recent Research Says
  2. Introducing the Assistive Technology Blog Series
  3. Preparing Pre-Service Educators to Make AT Decisions
  4. 3 Key Questions When Considering Assistive Technology
  5. Data Tools to Inform AT for Reading and Writing
  6. Supporting Online Reading Using Assistive Technology
  7. FOCUS To-Do Increases Time Management Skills in Pre-Service Teachers
  8. Assistive Technology Solutions to Support Math
  9. Behavior and Burnout? Values-Based Practice Using ACTCompanion
Person writes a mathematical equation on a whiteboard

Assistive Technology Solutions to Support Math

Author: Kenneth Holman, Michelle S. Patterson; info@ciddl.org

In our blog series on Assistive Technology (AT), we’ve defined AT, considered AT selection, identified data collection resources, and recommended solutions to support students with disabilities across reading and writing. In a recent poll, our CIDDL community indicated math as a priority need. In this blog, we suggest math resources that preservice educators can add to their AT Toolkits.

Is it Really Math or Is it Something Else?

Preservice educators need to determine the underlying barrier resulting in math difficulty for a student. For students with dyslexia or vision impairments, the difficulty with completing math tasks may stem from challenges in accessing print in math texts, from directions to word problems. For students with writing difficulties arising from dysgraphia or motor impairments,  math success may be impeded when students write out calculations or descriptions of their solutions.

Teachers can use work samples to identify if writing impacts math, looking for signs such as when writing is illegible, takes up an increased amount of space on a page, or when difficulty with aligning problems on a page results in incorrect calculations. Teachers can use no-tech and low-tech solutions first, such as using graphing paper rather than traditional lined paper to support writing size and alignment. Traditional lined paper can be turned sideways to create vertical lines to scaffold lining up problems. High-tech AT solutions include software such as Equatio and OneNote Math Assistant. Barriers specific to math can be observed with difficulty completing computations, remembering basic facts, creating mental models, and problem-solving. Educators benefit from completing error analysis for math problems to narrow down the cause of the issue and select effective solutions.

However, it is important to pair the use of AT devices with effective teaching methodologies when supporting students' math learning. For example, implementing explicit instruction strategies, such as modeling and thinking aloud, supported by various apps and digital tools, can be beneficial to students with and without math learning disabilities. Below are several resources and tools that could support teachers and students in addressing these challenges in relation to math learning.  

When reading and writing are impacting math

Logo for EquatIO

Equatio allows teachers and students to create equations and formulas in a digital format. Math-to-speech functionality ensures students have access to content, whether in print or equation form. Not only does Equatio support students with the reading required in math, but it also makes it possible for students to speak, draw, or type problems and equations directly onto their devices. Available on Windows, Mac, and Google, EquatIO is free for educators, with student licenses on a paid subscription.

OneNote logo

OneNote provides teachers and students a means to create equations using inking and solve math equations using Math Assistant.  Math Assistant supports arrays, expressions, equations, inequalities, systems, derivatives, matrices, polar coordinate graphing, and complex modes using imaginary i.

When math is the issue

Teacher Tools logo

Toy Theatre provides virtual manipulatives in a web browser for students who need support with mental models. Manipulatives support abstract concepts including fractions, area, angles, number lines, place value, coordinates, and base 10.

Photomath logo

Photomath supports students who require multiple opportunities to practice steps, scaffolding to recall multiple-step processes, or to learn at a personalized pace. Students use the camera on a mobile device to scan a math problem, and the app then displays step-by-step explanations onscreen. Math solutions are available for content ranging from elementary math to algebra, to trigonometry and calculus.  It is available for free on both Android and iOS

Desmos logo

Desmos is an online tool including a graphing calculator, scientific calculator, and matrix calculator, available on a web browser, iOS, and Android. Desmos  presents graphic visualizations to support understanding. Desmos includes accessibility features to work with Jaws and NVDA screenreaders, Braille, and text-to-speech (beta).

Keep the Conversation Going

What other strategies and AT should pre-service educators be aware of to support math? How do you ensure your preservice educators are aware of these AT tools? Join the CIDDL community and keep the conversation going!