Classroom Assistive Technology for Math

Instructor: Jocelyn Cherry

Jocelyn has taught Special Education for over two decades and has three post secondary degrees all in the field of Education.

Lack of availability or cost alone cannot be used as an excuse for denying an assistive technology device to a student. This lesson will expand on classroom assistive technology for math and provide suggestions that can be implemented tomorrow.

What is Assistive Technology?

Assistive Technology for Mathematics,

Most are subtle without the dramatics,

Calculator or Scribe,

Schools must provide,

To produce student math fanatics!

This little limerick is about assistive technology in math. The term 'assistive technology' implies a device that is technical in nature, but that is not always the case. Actually, assistive technology is any item that is used to enhance or maintain the capabilities of children with disabilities.

An assistive technology device can be store-bought, crafted by hand, or something modified from its original form. This includes hardware, software, and any stand-alone devices such as smartphones or tablets. It could be a pencil grip or raised graph paper. The suggestions are endless. Almost any classroom tool can be considered an assistive technology device. The only exclusion to an item being considered an assistive technology device is an item that has been surgically implanted.

Assistive Technology for Math

The needs of every student can differ, so it's important to think about the right assistive technology in terms of the individual student. And in the same vein, the assistive technology tools you use in the math classroom may not be helpful in, for instance, the English classroom. Assistive technology tools for mathematics are specially geared toward helping students with special needs, such as those who struggle with computation, number alignment, or even just copying math problems down on paper.

Math Literacy

These tools are useful for helping students understand mathematical concepts and the language of math, and they can help students learn to apply math to the real world.

  • Manipulatives are objects that students can touch, hold and manipulate to better understand mathematical concepts, like addition and geometry. These tools can also help students who have trouble with visual processing. Common manipulatives include:
    • Counting blocks/bears
    • Base 5, 10, and 100 blocks
    • Abacus
    • Tangrams
    • Counters
    • Spinners
    • Geoboards

A geoboard can help students better understand shapes and angles.

  • Drill and practice software allows students to work on math problems and get immediate feedback, providing repetitive review of concepts learned in the classroom.
  • The Coin-U-Lator is a device that helps students learn to count money and understand the value of the different coins and bills. It incorporates fun sounds and learning games, and it's ideal for young students.

Visual Processing and Poor Eyesight

While visual processing and poor eyesight are very different issues, many of the assistive technology tools for one can be used for the other.

  • A talking calculator can help students who have a visual processing disorder or poor eyesight. It has a built-in speech function that reads aloud each number, symbol, or operation key a student presses. It will also read the answers to problems.
  • Calculators with large keys and displays can aid students with poor vision.
  • Raised number rulers have easy-to-read numbers and raised lines to help students with vision problems and visual processing disorder.
  • Worksheets with enlarged print are useful for the visually impaired.


Taking clear and easy-to-understand is essential for after-class reference. The following tools can help students become better note-takers, better utilize their notes and make the note-taking process more enjoyable.

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