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Assistive Technology for Math and Science Classes. Lorinda Tait Representing Michigan’s Assistive Technology Resource. Objectives. Increase knowledge of assistive technology. Increase understanding of universal design. Learn about Michigan’s Assistive Technology Resource.

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assistive technology for math and science classes

Assistive Technology for Math and Science Classes

Lorinda Tait


Michigan’s Assistive Technology Resource

Lorinda Tait

  • Increase knowledge of assistive technology.
  • Increase understanding of universal design.
  • Learn about Michigan’s Assistive Technology Resource.
  • Increase awareness of tools for science and math.

Lorinda Tait


Michigan’s Assistive Technology Resource (MATR) Services

  • We act as a resource to all school districts, ISDs, and private schools throughout Michigan in order to build local team capacity in assistive technology (AT).
  • Our website is: and lists all of our services and forms.
  • Our services to schools are FREE and include:
    • AT consultations with student & IEP team members
    • equipment loan program for trials of AT to schools
    • a software loan library
    • Training - practicum, inservice workshops
    • Our print shop provides large print books to schools (fee-based service).

Lorinda Tait


Definition of Assistive Technology (AT)

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) defines assistive technology devices as “any piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of children with disabilities.”

Lorinda Tait


A Framework for considering assistive technology


by Joy Zabala (1994)

STUDENT – What are the student’s special needs and abilities? Why does the student need AT?

ENVIRONMENT – Where will the student use AT? What supports, resources are available?

TASKS – What IEP goals will be addressed with AT? What activities is the student expected to do?

TOOLS – What assistive technology (no/low tech, and high tech) options should be considered to address the tasks? What strategies might be used to increase student performance?

Lorinda Tait

universal design for learning
Universal Design For Learning
  • Teachers are designers. They design activities, materials and curricula.
  • Coupling between abilities and task requirements
  • Targets educational needs of all students while addressing different learning styles.
  • Technology increases the adaptability and flexibility.

Lorinda Tait

physically and cognitively accessible
Physically and Cognitively Accessible
  • Wheelchair accessibility, alternative keyboards, screen readers.
  • Perceptual accessibility - color blindness, hearing loss or visual impairments.
  • Cognitively impaired as well as different learning styles and strengths.
  • Multiple ways of engaging the material, presenting the material and reporting results.

Lorinda Tait

universal design
Universal Design
  • Utilize multiple modes of information presentation - verbal, iconic, pictorial, tactile.
  • Provide contrast between the information and its surroundings. The expanded use of sound field systems exemplifies this principle. Students perform better academically. On any given day students have temporary hearing problems due to colds, flu, allergies and fatigue.
  • Different representations such as concept maps and then outline form appeal to different learning styles.

Lorinda Tait

tasks for math
Tasks for Math
  • Sorting shapes, analyzing patterns - geometry
  • Estimating,measurements, creating graphs – probability
  • Computation – manipulation of numbers for math operations
  • Fractions and Decimals – same as above
  • Writing equations with correct alignment- using math symbols
  • Reading and analyzing word problems – step by step logic
  • Using calculators – scientific, graphing (with speech)
  • Studying and taking tests
  • List is not comprehensive, but examples

Lorinda Tait

shapes graphs
Shapes, Graphs
  • Manipulatives - blocks, play money algebra tiles. Manipulative math software- Unifix, IntelliMathics, MathPadPlus
  • Wickki Stix for raising lines on graph. Graphing software - Graph Club (early elementary), Graph Master (upper elementary), Excel, Claris (Apple) Works for Kids, or any word processor with graphing capabilities.

Lorinda Tait

computations decimals writing equations word problems
Computations, decimals, writing equations, word problems
  • Talking calculator, coinulator. Use math overlays for Intellikeys.
  • MathPad, MathPad Plus, Access to Math (Mac) Math Edit, , MathType.
  • Text readers (Kurzweil 3000, Scan & Read, Text Assist, Text Help: Read and Write,Wordsmith)

Lorinda Tait

more math tools
More Math Tools
  • Accessible graphing calculator from Oregon State Univ. - graphs equations and provides a visual or auditory graph.
  • MetroPlex has MathPad By Voice for elementary and MathTalk for high school and professional math. MathBraille Talk produces math in Braille or print.

Lorinda Tait

tasks for science
Performing experiments

Recording observations

Collecting & Recording data (measuring)

Analyzing Data - graphs

Writing Science/Lab Reports

Reading science textbooks, research

Using scientific calculators, converting units

Studying and Test taking

List is not comprehensive, but examples

Tasks for Science

Lorinda Tait

science tools
Science Tools
  • Interactive science software: Zap and Virtual Lab by Edmark for upper elementary and Thinkin’ Science for grades 1 & 2, Sammy’s Science House for pre-K.
  • Logger Pro by Vernier software - science software that records data from separate sensors and performs graph analysis - can be connected to a graphing calculator.

Lorinda Tait

tools for science
Tools for Science
  • Overlay of a periodic table for writing chemical equations.
  • Reach Interface Author to customize a periodic table for chemistry.
  • Inspiration/Kidspiration to help students organize reports, procedure charts for science experiments and other smart charts.

Lorinda Tait

  • Wordbar, and word predictors (Co:Writer, Soothsayer, Word Q, Text Help: Read & Write) can be used to help write science assignments. Dictionaries within a word predictor can be created to specify science or math terms.

Lorinda Tait

  • Digital microscopes (Intelplay from Mattel) also from Edmund Scientific, Motic Play ( and other science oriented vendors. Viewing can be displayed on to a computer or projected onto a screen.
  • Voice Input can be used to help students write science reports. (Dragon Naturally Speaking version 7)

Lorinda Tait


Assistive Technology is used to increase a student’s learning through increased participation in activities. By employing a “hands on” approach, the teacher creates an opportunity to engage the

student’s mind.

DO NOT ALWAYS MAKE THE STUDENT WITH A DISABILITY THE EXPERIMENT, BUT LET THEM PARTICIPATE IN THE EXPERIMENTS AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE. From M. Richardson (1994) “Excusing a special needs student from a classroom assignment is simply excusing yourself from finding a way for the student to participate in the assignment.”*

Authoring software allows the teacher to customize lessons/ homework for the student.Clicker 4 and IntelliTalk II authoring software with speech output for all levels of math and science - used to create templates for science report, tests, study guides - both have graphic capabilities.

*Richardson, M. (1994). We all learned together. “Science Scope,” 17(6), pg.68-70.

Lorinda Tait

last but not least

Last but not Least

Lorinda Tait