Tips and Strategies to Make Ratios and Proportional Relationships Accessible

By Susan LoFranco on Feb 28, 2017

Students with visual impairments may face challenges when working on the Mathematics standards in the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).  As a response to this, Perkins School for the Blind convened a panel of experts to identify specific standards that would be a potential challenge to students who are blind or visually impaired, and then proposed ideas for materials, foundational skills, tips and strategies, and lesson ideas to help to address these challenges.

This post is part of a series about different parts of the Mathematical standards.

What is a student likely to be working on in this area:

  • The study of Ratios and Proportional Relationships are generally studied in 6th and 7th grades although the skills learned are applied throughout a students further math education
  • A ratio is a comparison of two things. A proportion is two ratios that have been set equal to each other 5/10 = 1/2. 
  • A proportion is an equation that can be solved
  • The student will likely build tables of related quantities and find missing values

What are the particular challenges for a student who have a visual impairment? 

Students should have time sufficient to practice reading and creating tables and proportional relationships

Foundational Skills: 

  • recognize and represent the connection between equivalent ratios, values in a table, and graphed ordered pairs to express unit rates using a variety of representations, given a contextual situation 
  • identify that a proportional relationship intersects (0,0)  
  • determine other points using (1, r)  
  • to recognize and represent proportional relationships
  • use proportional relationships to solve multistep ratios and percent problems


  • Braille/large print ruler and sliders
  • Tactile fractional circles                                                                      
  • Tactile graphics on a coordinate plane
  • A timer
  • Math builder
  • APH Unit 7 manipulatives: ratios
  • APH Graphic Aid for Mathematics
  • APH Mathbuilder's Unit 8 data collection kit in braille
  • Manipulatives
  • Embossed graph sheets
  • Bold line tactile graph paper
  • A tactile graphics kit 
  • Large print
  • Graph board

Tips and Strategies

  • When using tactile graphics, it may be best to use as a kit to make tables in order to enter data for easy comparison         
  • When using graph board, a student can work with ratio bands and pins or pegs
  • When using notetakers, students can read word problems or research other real-world problems to construct a math problem

Lesson Ideas

  • Ticking timer and track to walk on, compute time distance rations and length ratios by measuring number of strides per minute. 
  • With manipulatives and appropriate rulers, measure ratios of side lengths and shapes. 
  • Sorting boxes to put objects into for comparison. Empty egg cartons and small tactually different items can work to compare quantities. Graph results.
  • Have student groups count their items and graph each group's results.
  • Plan a garage sale or cake sale. Discuss pricing and how much prices will decrease each day. Graph profits.

Collage of ratio and proportions

Read more about: Math, STEM