How can digital content help students with learning disabilities that affect their ability to process math?
Some learning disabilities make it difficult for students to acquire math skills. Students may not be able to fully understand mathematics content in standard print form because of the additional mental processing required to interpret math expressions. They may react to math problems on the page as signals to do something, rather than as meaningful sentences that need to be read for understanding. In particular, they may face difficulties with self-verbalizing math equations. Using synthetic speech to verbalize digital mathematics expressions may aid students with these challenges.
Digital math content created with MathML can be an effective format for this application. MathML is a universally designed math format that supports access techniques commonly used by students with learning disabilities, such as synthetic speech and synchronized highlighting. A number of commonly used assistive technologies designed for use by students with learning disabilities, like ReachDeck and Read&Write, support MathML content.
For further information on educational issues relating to math and students with learning disabilities see the article Math Learning Disabilities by Kate Garnet.
For additional resources on this topic, consult the following Knowledge Base articles:
- What are strategies for teaching a student with a math-related learning disability?
- What are typical challenges students with math-related learning disabilities face?
- What is MathML?
- Why is accessible math important? and
- Are there commercial products designed to make math accessible to students with disabilities?