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Practice Perspective — JVIB Abstract

Abstract: Mathematics can be a formidable roadblock for students who are visually impaired (that is, those who are blind or have low vision). Grade equivalency comparisons between students who are visually impaired and those who are sighted are staggering. According to the U.S. Department of Education, 75% of all visually impaired students are more than a full grade level behind their sighted peers in mathematics, and 20% of them are five or more grade levels behind their sighted peers in the subject (Blackorby, Chorost, Garza, & Guzman, 2003). Overall low achievement in mathematics is directly related to the crisis in braille literacy that experts in the field have noted with alarm over the last 25 years (Amato, 2002; Mullen, 1990; National Federation of the Blind [NFB], 2009; Papadopoulos & Koutsoklenis, 2009; Schroeder, 1989). Over 80% of students who are visually impaired are educated in mainstream, state-run schools (American Printing House for the Blind [APH], 2014). These students are not receiving adequate instruction in the Nemeth Braille Code for Mathematics and Science Notation (hereafter, Nemeth code) and are not given adequate access to Nemeth code materials (Amato, 2002; Kapperman & Sticken, 2003; Rosenblum & Amato, 2004). As a result, visually impaired students often cannot persist in post-secondary education and are denied access to many career paths, especially those in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

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