Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon Portland Community College

Subject Area Accessibility Study in Mathematics

Fall term 2012, the Online Learning department and two Math Departments at Portland Community College financed release time for two math faculty, Scot Leavitt and Chris Hughes, to study how to make math content more accessible for online students with disabilities. Since it is blind students that encounter the most serious accessibility problems with online math courses, that is who the study focused on mainly.

Download theĀ full report on Accessible Content Creation in Mathematics (completed April, 2013). See blog post made on the study. And see Best Practices in Math and Science for the latest information on Math and Science accessibility here at PCC.

The Rule of Four

The rule of four is one of the most useful guiding principles both in teaching, and from the perspective of accessibility. Explicitly, when a concept or idea is introduced and discussed, we try to do so in four different ways:

  • algebraically
  • numerically
  • verbally
  • graphically

Depending on the student who we are working with, and the particular accommodations that the student has, one or more of these different descriptions may be harder for the student to access than the others. For example, if we are accommodating a student that is hearing impaired then the verbal description will need to be accommodated. This can be achieved in a number of different ways which include: using a sign language interpreter; captioning videos and other audio content. A student who is visually impaired may have more difficulty accessing each of the different descriptions except the verbal.