Blind Bargains

Blind Bargains Top 10 Stories of 2013: 10. X Plus Y Equals Math Access

It's time for our annual look back at the year in assistive technology, the Blind Bargains Top 10 Stories of 2013. This year's panel included J.J. Meddaugh, Jamie Pauls, Alena Roberts, and Joe Steinkamp. We'll be counting down the top stories of the year over the coming days and anounce the number one on Wednesday at 4 PM Eastern on Serotalk. SO without further delay, let's get going. And wouldn't you know it, we have a tie at number 10.

When it comes to challenging classes, math is a sore subject for many. Not only is it often seen as cumbersome and complicated, the barriers to access that sometimes exist often lead schools to exempt their blind students from math classes, leading to a subpar and inadequate learning experience. The two stories that tied for number 10 on our list represent both past and future efforts to break down barriers for mathematics more than any other.

Dr. Abraham Nemeth created the braille notation that bears his name out of necessity while teaching college-level math classes. Before the Nemeth Code, no symbology existed to represent complex signs, formulas, or functions. Nemeth's system is still in wide use today,, most recently gaining modern support from the latest KeySoft update for the BrailleNote Apex. Dr. Nemeth died in October at the age of 94.

Meanwhile, The American Printing House for the Blind and Orbit Research formed a partnership to create an accessible interface to one of the most widely-used brands of calculators. The TI-84 Plus was released with a small add-on which provides synthetic speech and access to the wide array of graphing functions available on the unit. Beyond the coolness of the product itself, it's the feeling of inclusion which really drives this product home, as blind students can now use the same types of calculators as their classmates.

I'm sure these modern developments in mathematics would make Dr. Nemeth proud. The advancements in math access in both written and electronic form will help to open many more doors to scientists, engineers, and tech enthusiasts. It's why the year in math is our number 10 story on the countdown..

Category: Articles
Displaying 1 comment.
jjs Tuesday, 07-Jan-2014 2:44 PM ET:

I can imagine how hard it is for blind students today. When I got a math major in 1975, I was able to compete favorably with my sighted peers using a slate and stylus, and a braille circular slide rule. Today I would think it would be harder.

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J.J. Meddaugh is an experienced technology writer and computer enthusiast. He is a graduate of Western Michigan University with a major in telecommunications management and a minor in business. When not writing for Blind Bargains, he enjoys travel, playing the keyboard, and meeting new people.

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