It is incredibly frustrating when a vision impaired student is not able to use a calculator in the math classroom with the rest of their peers, all because there isn’t a calculator that is accessible for them. I know this from experience.
In my high school level math classes, my school district couldn’t provide me with an accessible calculator. I had to learn to do almost all math concepts by hand while my friends used calculators. The teachers would penalize me for this because it took me longer to do things, but on the bright side, I scored in the 99th percentile for mental math on my ACT. Luckily, there has been a lot of great technology innovations since my first algebra 1 class, especially with the iPad. Here are five calculator apps that help students with low vision in the classroom, including some that are approved for standardized testing.
I started using the myScript calculator app my junior year of high school for my chemistry SOL test. myScript uses handwriting input that can recognize even the messiest of handwriting and displays calculation results in large, clear text. It’s a very popular calculator app for special education and disability classes. I got the app for free years ago, but it appears the new version of the app costs $2.99.
Sometimes I just need a basic four-function calculator with a high contrast display. For moments like this, I turn to the Big Digits calculator app. It features a high contrast colored display and easy to read text. If a dark background is preferred, the iPad display can be configured to show inverted colors. This app also worked flawlessly with VoiceOver and is approved to use with standardized testing.
- How To Make iPad Accessible for Low Vision
- How To Use VoiceOver For Beginners
- Big Digits download for iPad
First off, please note the space between the word calculator and the plus sign. There are many apps out there that look like calculators but are actually used for hiding pictures and videos.
Now that we have that out of the way, Calculator + is a scientific calculator, graphing calculator, base converter, and so much more. I use this app all the time when doing calculus homework and find it very easy to see, especially with all of the different color modes available. I normally just use the scientific calculator function because that is the only segment of the app that was approved for me to use in testing. The scientific calculator function is free, but the other sections of the app cost money. Calculator + is a free app with in-app purchases ranging from $8 for half of the functions to $15 for all of the functions unlocked, which is what I paid.
- How To Use Guided Access For Testing
- Five Websites That Help Students With Low Vision In The Math Classroom
- Calculator + for iPad
Geogebra Graphing Calculator
Geogebra Graphing Calculator allows users to graph points and perform other common functions for graphing calculators. I use this app in my classes frequently, and while I wish the line for the graph was bolder, it’s easy to see and use. It also has a built in testing mode for exams. Geogebra Graphing Calculator is free to use.
Need to remember a bunch of numbers? Magnet Calc is a large button calculator that performs basic calculations. A unique feature about the app is that the user can then drag the answer to their question to another location on the screen. It’s like they are putting something on the board with a magnet. These calculations stay there until they are deleted, and the user can also use the sum function to add up all of the numbers displayed. I liked being able to see all of the numbers displayed, and it helped me when working with particularly long calculations that required several parts. Magnet Calc is free to download and ads can be removed for 99 cents, and for $1.01 on Android.
Hopefully these five calculator apps will help students with low vision in the math classroom have access to the same tools as their peers.