[Blindmath] Bringing notes to an exam

Sina Bahram sbahram at nc.rr.com
Sun Feb 24 12:26:17 CST 2013

Maybe this is far too computer science of me, and if it is, then, ok, sure,
but you said they are allowed N pages, no? In that case, why not just
provide the blind student N print pages worth of space and then emboss it
into any amount of braille? If it's 1 page, it's 1, and if it's 10, it's 10.
This is what Ken pointed out as well.

If length is the metric by which we are restricting information, then why
not simply measure the length of the information in the source domain before
transforming to the target domain? E.g. measure in print, then emboss to

As for kids writing in small fonts or whatever, just arbitrarily pick 10pt
font and call it a day. If someone complains, point out that consistency and
100% replication due to a non-lossy medium is worth a fixed 10pt, even
though some kid could handwrite in 6pt, because the reading of that 6pt
arguably takes more time and is subject to more error.

Furthermore, I will take this opportunity to point out, in my humble
opinion, the complete and utter pedagogical uselessness of an assessment
whose outcomes can be changed by even half a page worth of information.
Unless if it's basic recall or something, shouldn't we concentrate on
testing skills, not formulas that will always be available, and in 10 years,
available directly in one's head from the Wikipedia brain implant?

If it's calculus, for example, just give them the fundamental theorem of
calculus, and then have them apply it in unique and creative ways to gleam
relevant insights. If it's physics, give them the differential equation for
spring motion with a dampening mass, or the universal law of gravitation, or
whatever inverse square law is relevant to the material at the time. It's
not like memorizing that makes anybody smart or more capable.

*shrug*, perhaps I oversimplify, and then again, perhaps we need to get
better at assessing actual skills, *grin*.

Take care,

Twitter: @SinaBahram
Website: http://www.SinaBahram.com
Blog: http://blog.SinaBahram.com

-----Original Message-----
From: Blindmath [mailto:blindmath-bounces at nfbnet.org] On Behalf Of Ken Perry
Sent: Sunday, February 24, 2013 12:55 PM
To: 'Blind Math list for those interested in mathematics'
Subject: Re: [Blindmath] Bringing notes to an exam

I thought we were far past this by now when I was in college back in the
90's I was allowed to bring my notes on the computer.  Some schools are dead
set against that because they think the student will jump on the internet
and cheat.  I could have done that back in the day but I also had a reader
with me most of the time so it's not like I was cheating the system.  What I
would do is have the student work out something with the teacher.  If the
teacher is happy with the sum of text the student is bringing to the test it
shouldn't matter if he or she brings it on a computer, note taker or in
braille.  As long as the instructor is ok with it.  I had some instructors
during calculus sit in on my test with my reader at first to see if the
person was doing the work for me and second time because they were amazed
that you could do it without a pencil. 

Another thing you can do is bring both the notes printed on the size of
paper that the instructor said they can use in as small a font that you can
use and bring it brailed and explain to them it's the same thing.   If you
have a DRC that transcribes it they can help certify to the teacher that it
is the same.  Most cases though the instructor will work with a student
without a whole lot of trust issues.

In fact with email now the student could email the notes he or she wants to
use on the test and if the teacher is ok with it I am sure they would let
the student braille it no matter how much braille paper it took up.


-----Original Message-----
From: Blindmath [mailto:blindmath-bounces at nfbnet.org] On Behalf Of Tim in 't
Sent: Sunday, February 24, 2013 5:13 AM
To: Blind Math list for those interested in mathematics
Subject: Re: [Blindmath] Bringing notes to an exam


Such comparisons are hardly meaningful.
With mathematics there are way too many factors involved to define a uniform
ratio between regular pages and pages of braille. Not only does braille take
up much more space by definition, your student may need some extra space to
enable him to easily browse the notes during the exam.

  I'd not impose a fixed limit.  Of course if the student comes up with a
stack of 100 pages that's going to be questionable but no sensible student
would do that anyway.

The limit is not even that clearly fixed for sighted students - they could
just use a tiny font, write a few formulae on a single line, ... 
if they really wanted a large volume of notes. Needless to say such options
are unavailable to a blind student.

On 24-2-2013 01:04, Gabriela Moats wrote:
> Hi everyone,
> A student I work with is taking a Calculus exam where students are 
> allowed to bring in one double-sided page of notes. We're trying to 
> figure out what a comparable equivalent to that would be for this 
> blind student. How many extra pages should he be allowed since Braille
tends to take up more space?
> Should it be printed out Braille or could it be on his notetaking device?
> Does anyone have any experience with providing a similar accommodation?
> Thanks everyone!
> Gabriela

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