Advice for teaching math to a blind middle-school student

A friend of mine teaches special ed in middle school. She was recently informed that next year she will have a student who is blind.

She has no experience teaching a completely blind student – she had a student a few years ago who was legally blind – he could read the materials if she enlarged them on the copier.

But apparently, this student next year can’t see at all. He reads Braille (which she does not – how quickly can a person learn Braille?)

Since she will be teaching math to him, she’s a bit concerned – e.g., how do you show algebra steps to a blind student?

Any advice on this is appreciated.

I googled “algebra blind” and got some results which mention something called the Nemeth Code, a superset (subset?) of traditional Braille which stands in for mathematical and scientific notation. Perhaps some Googling along those lines will give you a better idea of which direction to go?

If the student doesn’t know Nemeth, then perhaps the teacher could learn Nemeth with the student, and explain concepts as they learn the symbols?

Hope this helps…

Any chance she can circle back with the kid’s previous teachers and see what they found to be useful?

… okay…The average seeing person has very little use for higher level math in their life… What possible usage does a blind person have?

Push You Down, the student is in middle school, learning algebra, not topology. I think anyone who doesn’t have a grasp of (very fundamental) mathematics (such as basic algebra) would be easily taken advantage of. The student will be further handicapped, beyond his blindness, if he doesn’t learn.

The kid probably has a resource teacher. The teacher should talk to this person to get suggestions about what has worked for him in the past.

I’ll throw out a couple of tangentially relevant remarks that are probably of no direct use to the OP…

My first semester in graduate school, I was a TA and had a couple of “quiz sections” of Calculus I, where I would give quizzes, go over homework, answer questions, etc. And in one of those sections, I had a student who was totally blind, but, amazingly enough, was able to do calculus in his head. I quickly learned to talk everything through and never write anything on the chalkboard without also saying what I was doing. And when I gave quizzes, I’d take the blind student into the hall and read him the questions, and he’d talk them through and give me the answers orally.

Leonhard Euler, unquestionably one of the greatest mathematicians of all time, was totally blind for the last several years of his life but remained enormously productive.

What iwakura43 said – since the blind kid can’t work at McDonald’s, he really needs to maximize his chances at a better job.