24 Oct UEB Math versus Nemeth Code and Computer Braille
This article is information from the YouTube video:
Read all the way through this article as there is very valuable information as well as an attachment
College Board tests-From Carlton Walker so please contact her for further questions.
Carlton Anne Cook Walker
Attorney at Law
BEAR–Blindness Education and Advocacy Resources
Teacher of Students with Blindness/Low Vision
President, National Organization of Parents of Blind Children (NOPBC)
101 Kelly Drive
Carlisle, PA 17015
The College Board offers Braille tests ONLY in UEB and with Nemeth Code for math. “Students can request and be approved for Braille and large-print test formats. Braille tests are available for all College Board exams in Unified English Braille (UEB) with Nemeth Code for math.” from https://nfb.org/images/nfb/publications/fr/fr37/1/fr370102.htm
Given the lack of availability of UEB Math from the College Board, students who are not permitted to learn Nemeth Code will be unable to take the following tests:
o The ONLY means by which a student may compete to become a National Merit Scholar
- SAT Subject exams
- AP exams
- CLEP exams
- Accuplacer exams
This will place these students at a severe disadvantage in their pursuit of post-secondary education.
- As noted above, the PSAT is the ONLY method of entering the competition to be named a National Merit Scholarship semi-finalist, finalist, or winner
- The SAT is a commonly-used college entrance exam, and it is used by scholarship-granting organizations as well.
- AP exams are end-of-course tests through which a student may earn college credit (depending on the student’s score and the attending school’s AP credit-granting policy).
o Pursuing AP study is favored by colleges. Will they understand they the blind student couldn’t take the AP Calculus exam?
o The AP test costs less than one hundred dollars, but a student may earn three to eight credits by passing the test. This saves a significant amount of money for the students’ families. Will schools be willing to pay for a comparable college course for students unable to take an AP exam because Nemeth instruction was withheld from them?
- CLEP exams provide students a way to get college credit similar to that of AP exams. However, CLEP exams are not typically tied to high school courses like AP exams are.
- Accuplacer is an exam used by many community colleges, four-year colleges, and universities to place students in the proper class.
o Students who cannot take the Accuplacer exam will likely be placed in lower-level classes than is appropriate.
o Taking additional, but unneeded, classes increases expense as well as the time needed to matriculate to a degree.
o Again, are school districts willing to pay for the harm done to students as a result of having Nemeth Code instruction withheld?
Even students who are permitted to learn Nemeth Code (but are also forced to learn UEB Math) will be able to take College Board tests, but they will also be burdened with needlessly learning two math codes: one to please their school and one to serve them for life.
In your advocacy, please stress that the push toward UEB Math is a de facto denial of FAPE (free appropriate public education) because no non-disabled students are being forced to learn and use a math code which is region-specific and which restricts the student’s post-secondary education options.
Several school districts in Virginia have opined that they “must: teach UEB Math so that students may take the required end-of-course tests, Standards of Learning tests (SOL tests), which Virginia offers only in UEB Math.
However, Virginia also provides many alternatives to the SOL tests for all students in the state. Please find attached the most recent version of the list of acceptable test alternatives to the SOLs.
Under Math, PSAT tests, SAT tests, SAT Subject tests, AP tests, and CLEP tests all qualify as SOL alternatives. As noted above, all of these tests are available only in Nemeth Code. Thus, withholding Nemeth Code instruction significantly limits the availability of SOL alternative tests which would be available to a blind student in Virginia.
It is worth noting that the ACT (a nationwide college entrance exam that is currently available in both Nemeth Code and UEB Math) is not permitted to serve as an SOL Alternative test in the following subjects: Geometry, Earth Science, Biology, or Chemistry). Thus, Braille-reading students who do not know Nemeth Code have few SOL alternative tests in these areas.
Regarding another possible test, the Cambridge International Examination, these tests are prepared in UEB only; their “How to apply for modified papers” notes: “there are no longer any special codes for maths and computer braille, one code is used for all.” (from http://www.cambridgeinternational.org/Images/340841-how-to-apply-for-modified-papers.pdf). Additionally, there is only one school in the entire state of Virginia which is listed as a “Cambridge school” on the www.cambridgeinternational.org website. That school is the Parkside Middle School, a part of the Prince William County School District. This is likely an illusory option, even for individuals attending the school because it is highly unlikely that any middle school student would be prepared to take end-of-year course examinations in all of the following subjects:
Regarding the International Baccalaureate tests, I cannot find any recent information on accessibility for this test. Some information I found from 2011 states: “A school must ensure that the candidate is familiar with the Braille code used for each examination paper (for example, Nemeth Braille Code for science and mathematics notation).” (from http://www.haef.gr/~/media/Files/HAEF/IB/pdf/Info_for_parents/Candidates_with_SpecialAssessmentNeeds_2011.ashx?la=en). While this information is seven years old, it is clear that Nemeth Code was the standard for this test. Like the Cambridge program, a student must attend a high school with the IB program to take one of these tests. Only thirty-nine high schools in Virginia have such a program, and three of them are private schools.
UEB Math need not be a requirement in Virginia. In fact, if a student does not know Nemeth Code, s/he is at a severe disadvantage in both post-secondary school options and in SOL alternative test options. UEB Math is limiting; Nemeth Code is freeing and empowering.
Please see the clarification set forth in the email below that the state of North Carolina is NOT forcing students to learn UEB Math and that math code choice is an IEP decision.
“From: Amy Campbell <Amy.Campbell@dpi.nc.gov>
Date: October 18, 2018 at 2:04:45 PM EDT
Subject: Braille — It’s a Team Decision
While North Carolina supports the implementation of students using the “full UEB” as opposed to “Nemeth with UEB embedded”, it remains an IEP team decision as to which braille instruction path best fits the student’s needs.
When ordering statewide tests, LEAs have the option for both types of braille. The ACT (college board exam) can also be produced in the full UEB.
The Braille Authority of North American supports BOTH types of braille.
BANA’s decision to transition to UEB:
- BANA fall 2015 press release: “The Braille Authority of North America (BANA) recognizes and appreciates the genuine concerns from the braille community regarding the transition to Unified English Braille (UEB). BANA stands by our original motion to adopt UEB as a COMPLETE CODE [emphasis added] as well as the implementation statement issued in 2014 in which we expressed that the Nemeth Code remains integral to braille in the United States. The Board of BANA could not reach consensus regarding the establishment of a single standard code for technical materials for braille in the United States. The decision to use UEB or the Nemeth Code within UEB context for technical materials should be made based on braille readers’ individual needs.”
- The American Council of the Blind passed another resolution in 2016 that affirms BANA’s decision to support BOTH codes for math, while documenting the outcomes of this and revisiting the issue when more is known: http://acb.org/res1604
- Clovernook Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired is working on a new course for transcriber certification that will cover more “technical” materials, so that will create more people who can transcribe math & science materials in UEB.
- The American Printing House for the Blind’s (APH) commitment to honor the requests for UEB materials for math: http://www.aph.org/…/20140724-policies-regarding-ueb-trans…/
BANA’s intention was not to “have states choose”—the intention was that ALL UEB symbols be available for use in any context. Since the English Braille American Edition didn’t include any math symbols, it was a true “literary” code. UEB is not a literary code, it’s a general purpose code that can be used in all contexts—and was designed to be that way. All UEB symbols are available for use in all contexts. The 2015 BANA statement says is that choices can be made to benefit students. BANA is not “taking anything away”–BANA is ADDING options.
The choice of braille for technical materials is an IEP team decision and should be based on the unique needs of the student, regardless of any state adoption plan. If a student learning the full UEB leaves our state and moves to another state that primarily uses Nemeth, the student’s IEP (which supports full UEB) will still need to be honored. And the same is true if a student using Nemeth moves to my state. What this means is that for the time being, we educators must have knowledge and proficiency in using both codes.
For questions or concerns, please feel free to email or call Crystal and myself. We are here to support you on your journey as a professional.
Thank you for all the many things you do for students!! You are appreciated.
Educational Consultant for Visual Impairment
NC APH Ex-Officio Trustee
Exceptional Children Division
North Carolina Department of Public Instruction