New programme that teaches blind students Math launched in Mumbai

National Association for Blind launches module in Mumbai to use better tools to teach Math to its students

In A world where children shy away from maths, 15-year-old Bhavya Shah stands out. He loves the subject, and, when he grows up, he wants to be a computer engineer. It’s a dream that until now would have had little chance of fulfillment.

Vaishali Mahajan, a NAB-trained teacher, with Akhilesh Kambali, who has low vision. Kambali uses large print papers and contrast colours as tools to understand mathematical concepts. Pic/Sharad Vegda
Vaishali Mahajan, a NAB-trained teacher, with Akhilesh Kambali, who has low vision. Kambali uses large print papers and contrast colours as tools to understand mathematical concepts. Pic/Sharad Vegda

Shah is visually impaired and there are few tools in the city that can help teachers teach numbers to students like him. However, now, the National Association for Blind (NAB), in association with Mission for Vision (another NGO that works with the visually impaired), has launched a programme using specially designed aids and modules to help teach mathematics to the visually impaired.

What this programme will also do is make visually impaired candidates eligible to appear for competitive exams where mathematics is a compulsory subject. The Maharashtra State Board for Secondary and Higher Secondary Education (MSBSHSE) gives a concession in mathematics to these students; they can opt for mathematics syllabus of Std VII for their Std X board exams.

K Raman Shankar, director of NAB, says, “We realised that as a result of both these factors, children with visual impairments don’t pursue mathematics after Std X. Even those who have an aptitude for mathematics end up taking the state board concession due to lack of support from parents, teachers and peers to pursue math after class VII.

This narrows down their future prospects as they find it difficult to succeed in competitive examinations where proficiency in mathematics is essential.” To make maths a reality for visually impaired students, the special educators at NAB in Mumbai are using educational training material developed by the International Council for Education of Children with Visual Impairment (ICEVI) for strengthening their own mathematical knowledge.

Next, they are training students with the Std X level mathematics. The tools they will use include 3D figures, specially designed geometrical compasses and other instruments, special boards and books in Braille. “Better technology has helped us teach maths to students.

For instance, a visually impaired student can now use a talking software to help him understand algebra equations,” said Pallavi Shankar, assistant director NAB India (Education Department). Three teachers were trained in the last couple of months. There are nearly 70 students at NAB, between Std VI to X, who will benefit from this project.

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