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Assistive learning technologies for students with visual impairments: A critical rehumanizing review

Students with visual impairments (SVIs) are often dehumanized in mathematics education, based on deficit perspectives, the assumption that mathematics learning must be visual, and a lack of tools that allow students on the entire spectrum of vision to collaborate mathematically. The current advent of assistive learning technologies (ALTs) holds promise in helping SVIs learn mathematics, particularly through making mathematics accessible in nonvisual ways. In this critical literature review, two authors, one blind and one sighted, use a disability studies and rehumanizing mathematics education framework to examine currently available ALTs. We organize our findings using the substitution, augmentation, modification, and redefinition (SAMR) model, then critique the technologies based on their capacity for humanizing SVIs in mathematics learning. We found that most technologies rely on a substitution or augmentation model, merely replacing visual information with audio or tactile information and then requiring SVIs to “act” more like their sighted peers. We found few technologies that recognized the unique mathematical experiences SVIs hold, or empowered SVIs to create and own their own mathematical knowledge through collaboration with all students on the spectrum of vision.