General tips & tricks

 

For a mainstream maths teacher, it's not self-evident to have a braille pupil in the classroom. While you have a whole class to manage, the braille pupil will sometimes need some extra attention. On the other hand: having a braille pupil in your classroom can also be challenging. The need to explain maths in a less abstract and more concrete way is something the peers also benefit from. Please contact the itinerant teacher, who can provide tactile drawings and educational objects and can focus on pre-teaching to prepare the braille pupil for your lessons. We would like to share some general guidelines with you.

1) Braille pupils work slower than their peers due to the lack of overview and the lower reading and writing speed. This should be taken into account and compensated by cutting down the amount of exercises or by giving them extra time. Another possibility is to replace written questions by oral ones (for tests and exams).

2) Idealiter the braille pupil should be able to follow the lessons using the same maths books his/her peers are using. But, transcribing text books is time-consuming. Sometimes the braille pupil is still waiting for chapters which are already being dealt with in class. To prevent this, the maths teacher could give an overview of which chapters will be dealt with at what time of the year. The transcription centers could take this agenda into account.

3) When transcribing maths books, it's not necessary to transcribe all drawings. Reading drawings is time-consuming for the pupil and the production of swell drawings is expensive, so it's better to make a selection of important drawings. Talk this through with the itinerant teacher and make a selection.

4) It's necessary for a braille pupil to learn how to draw. But again, this takes a lot of time, so it doesn't mean s/he should make all drawing exercises the peers are making. It's a good idea to ask the itinerant teacher to focus on drawing while working with the braille pupil individually. Even if a braille pupil has “learnt” to draw, e.g. triangles, squares and circles, s/he may find it very difficult and frustrating. A better way of drawing for these pupils - if they would like to continue to draw - can be to draw around concrete materials.

5) We believe it is very fair to adapt tests and exams for braille pupils. Not only by cutting down the amount of exercises or granting extra time, but also by replacing exercises with alternative questions. In some countries braille pupils have to do the same state exams as their peers. They need an assistant (who knows mathematics) because they can't do all the exercises themselves. We think the possibility to adapt could increase the independence of the pupil. Of course these adaptations should be done by an expert, e.g. the itinerant teacher.

For some exercises in tests and exams there might be at good solution to compromise instead of making alternative questions: to adapt as far as possible and to use an assistant to complete the exercise on basis of the pupils instructions, e.g. by drawing a line from one point to another.

 

6) All braille pupils are different in terms of capabilities and experience. During the learning process they will need individual guidance and detailed action plans. Once they have a solid base, they will be able to work more independently.