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Developing Geometry Skills for Blind Learners


Developing hand control

Developing hand control

Shannon is a Year 6 braille student who will be transitioning to intermediate school in 2013.

At the Wellington Visual Resource Centre we are developing key maths skills with two braille learners.

We have been looking specifically at graphing, reading textbooks, abacus skills and geometric drawing skills.

Here Alison Prskawetz, Resource Teacher Vision talks about how the students focused on using a compass and drawing circles.

Introduction to the compass

Finding the centre point

Figure 1 Finding the centre point

Shannon is being introduced to an adapted compass and learning to draw circles on a drawing mat.

Developing skills in this area will help Shannon to create her own pie graphs for statistics.

In figure 1 Shannon is finding the centre point on the paper.

Developing fine motor skills

Shannon had to develop the concept of a circle and understand the function of a compass.  She was able to draw around a round object such as a plate before she came to this session.

Adjusting the compass

Figure 2 Learning to adjust the compass

Shannon had learnt if we cut out the circle and folded it she was able to find the centre of the circle and from there we could develop her understanding of a pie graph.

In figure 2 Shannon is learning to adjust the compass and using it to make circles with a drawing mat and tactile compass.

After mastering this Shannon moved on from drawing circles using a round object.  She was able to position her compass and draw circles.

Shannon needed time to explore this and to gain an understanding of what a half circle looked like.  She also had to develop her wrist control and her fine motor skills to draw the circles.

Finished product

Figure 3 The finished product

Shannon was also shown what to do if her compass slipped.  We then showed Shannon how to draw a geometrical flower using circles and half circles.

Following a demonstration of how to make the first two petals Shannon was able to complete this task independently.  Figure 3 shows the finished product.

Possible next steps

  • More practice on compass skills drawing simple circles.
  • Revisit the above task to consolidate skills.
  • Teach a peer how to create a compass flower.
  • Using a ruler to find the diameter by ruling through the centre point.
  • Using a protractor on the diameter and centre point to measure degrees for constructing a pie graph.

Teaching methods and strategies

  • Exploration of equipment.
  • Hand under hand demonstration.
  • Shannon was allowed time to explore independently.
  • She was also able discuss with a peer what she was doing and they supported each other to develop new skills.

Learning adaptations

Use of an adapted Howe Press compass – this is a very sturdy compass with a spur wheel instead of a pencil to give tactual feedback.  The compass has an isolating adjustment.


In the New Zealand curriculum we have looked ahead to develop skills that Shannon will need at intermediate level.  Progressing through levels 3,  4& 5 of the Mathematics and statistics strand as well as geometry and measurement.  We have found that previous braille learners did not have enough class time to develop these skills.  So we decided to focus on these ahead of time.

The assessment we used was observation and the concrete evidence of a completed task.  Within this task there are definite next steps to be taken and skills to be developed.

Learning resources

Thank you to Cathy West (Resource Teacher Vision, Blennz Wellington) who has supported my learning in this area and has developed simple step by step solutions for our students to use to become independent learners.

Useful Links

More information

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