Towards a Universal Mathematical Braille Notation

A. van Leendert*, M. Doorman, P. Drijvers, J. Pel, J. van der Steen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction: Across the world, mathematical expressions are represented very differently in braille. The aim of this study was (1) to gain an overall insight in mathematical braille notations and (2) to investigate how mathematical braille notations support braille readers in reading and comprehending mathematical expressions. Method: Twenty teachers from sixteen countries (thirteen European Union, EU, and three non-EU) were asked to transform 21 mathematical expressions and equations into the mathematical braille notation currently used by their braille readers. Three mathematical expressions were selected, and the transformed expressions in the different braille notations were qualitatively compared at braille and mathematical structure level. Results: The results illustrated that most mathematical braille notations use mathematical structures that either support braille readers in getting an overview of an expression—for example, by announcing the start and end of a fraction—or facilitate communication between braille readers and people who can see. Discussion: The method of comparing transformed expressions at structure level can be extended to other types of mathematical expressions and other mathematical braille notations. Agreement on the structure of different mathematical expressions can be a first step towards a universal mathematical braille notation. Implications for Practitioners: Mathematics teachers should be aware of and use the strengths of the mathematical braille notation and try to compensate for weaknesses of the notation in the support of braille readers. © American Foundation for the Blind 2022.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)141-153
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Visual Impairment and Blindness
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This work was supported by Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research.

Publisher Copyright:
© American Foundation for the Blind 2022.


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