DePountis, V. M., Pogrund, R. L., Griffin-Shirley, N., & Lan, W. Y. (2015). Technologies that facilitate the study of advanced mathematics by students who are blind: Teachers’ perspectives . International Journal of Special Education , 30 (2), 131–144.

Journal Article

DePountis, V. M., Pogrund, R. L., Griffin-Shirley, N., & Lan, W. Y. (2015). Technologies that facilitate the study of advanced mathematics by students who are blind: Teachers’ perspectives. International Journal of Special Education, 30(2), 131–144.


[no doi reported]; Also downloadable from ERIC online database:


Tactile graphics; Teacher survey; U.S. context




The "electronic assistive technology" (p. 132) supports consisted of accommodations which can be provided in primarily instructional use—such as braillewriters for taking notes—and accommodations used in both instructional and assessment contexts. Many devices were characterized as high-tech, yet some responses also noted low-tech devices.


Survey respondents were 82 secondary-level advanced mathematics educators of students with visual impairments. These educators worked in various school settings and roles throughout the U.S.; most (n=60) were itinerant teachers. Additional descriptive data were reported for these educators, including age, years of teaching experience, and specific math content specializations.

Dependent Variable

The educator survey was presented online, and consisted of various descriptive data, and sought both quantitative (including rating scales) and qualitative information about the "electronic assistive technology" that they provided to support their students with visual impairments. The list specified in survey items was derived from the body of literature as well as expert input. Survey respondents indicated their use, perceptions, and preferences about accommodations, and were invited to report additional electronic assistive technology supports not listed in survey items. Survey responses included comments about degree of familiarity and previous educator training on specific devices.


Teachers estimated that their proficiency in supporting students who are blind in learning advanced mathematics classes was highest in algebra, and was also relatively high in geometry. The teachers indicated having used up to 35 different electronic assistive technology (EAT) devices, including a number of EAT devices used during academic assessments, with at least nine of the survey respondents indicating they had used each of them. Thirteen devices were identified specifically as beneficial to their students: accessible graphing calculators, audio recording, Duxbury's DBT WIN, electronic refreshable braille notetakers (ERBN), Excel software, Graph-It, MathFlash, OCR software, personal computers (PCs), scanners/readers, scientific notebooks, talking calculators, and talking scientific calculators. Seven of these devices were typically used by students for producing work products: accessible graphing calculators, DBT WIN, ERBN, Excel, PCs, talking calculators, and talking scientific calculators. Of these 13 beneficial devices, seven were typically used in geometry, and four were typically used in algebra. Additional devices were mentioned in the open-response question, including those considered high-tech and low-tech: MathType and MathTrax software, notetakers such as refreshable displays and Perkins braille-writers, embossers and thermal printers, tactile boards such as those from the American Printing House, other manipulatives, and other devices such as abacuses and digital cameras. The researchers noted that teachers were primarily positive about the low-tech options and generally negative about the newest high-tech devices. Limitations of the study were reported, and future research directions were suggested.