Traditionally, a braille student completes math equations using a manual Perkins Braille Writer. However, 21st Century classrooms are completing assignments and assessments online. Students with visual impairments need new tools in order to access and independently complete online assignments and assessments. Benetech's Math Editor is a new accessible tool that enables students to show their work as they complete a math equation step-by-step.
The DIAGRAM Center is a Benetech initiative whose goal is to dramatically change the way digital content is produced and accessed so that students with disabilities are provided equal access to general education curriculum, especially science, technology, engineering, and math. Recently, the DIAGRAM Center completed the initial prototype of the Benetech Math Editor. This math editor is an accessible tool that enables students to complete math problems by inputting each step and being able to review their work step-by-step.
The DIAGRAM team identified three educational features that are critical to digital math education:
The Math Editor is a free online tool. The image below is a screen shot of the Math Editor tool, displaying the steps to complete the equation, 7x -13 = 1. The top half of the screen, called 'My Steps' shows each step that the student has inputted, starting with "Step 1: 7x - 13 = 1". The bottom half of the screen, called "My Work", shows the current step that the student is working on, along with a tool bar, microphone/textbox and Add Step button. The tool bar includes a 'cross out' feature and specific math symbols such as the greater than or equals sign, square root, etc. The microphone/textbook is for students to type or record the explanation of their work. The Add Step button is used to start the next step to solve the problem.
Editor's Note: Sue-Ann with Benetech shared that currently Math Editor is optimized for the Chrome browser on a Windows machine using NVDA or JAWS. Benetech is seeking testers who use screen readers on a Mac or PC. The iPad platform is not yet ready for field testing.
- Inclusive tool that all learners, with and without disabilities, can use, with accessibility features for learners requiring different input and output modes
- Enabling students to show work and demonstrate comprehension, particularly important as Common Core standards require students not only to do the math, but also to explain how they do it
- Ability to manually manipulate equations by moving or crossing out componets, without having the platform simplify the math automatically