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Teaching Students the Nemeth Braille Code for Mathematics and Science Notation: A Free Totally Accessible Online Approach

taught by: Susan Osterhaus
co-presented by: Sara Larkin

Session Summary

The class will begin with an overview of the Nemeth Code Curriculum. This curriculum includes lots of hands on activities and games for younger students that reinforce grade-level math concepts. Then we will move to the Focused Lessons for Grades 3–8, and finally we will focus on the Nemeth Symbol Library, which allows the user to look up symbols or math terms and find definitions for writing those in Nemeth Code, complete with examples for older students. Bring your computers and let’s get excited about Nemeth!


Even though there has been a need for a comprehensive Nemeth curriculum for students, one has not existed until now. While there are materials that can be used with transcribers and teacher candidates, they are not designed for youth and they are not in the current code, Nemeth within UEB Contexts. It was imperative that the curriculum be easy to use and accessible for all, regardless of background and previous experience with Nemeth Code. It was also important that math concepts be reinforced as PK-12 students are learning the code.

Instructional approaches often depend on a teacher’s confidence and expertise in both math and Nemeth. Some teachers have struggled in providing effective instruction due to their lack of training and/or expertise. This new curriculum is designed to be used by parents and teachers with varying levels of knowledge in math and Nemeth. This curriculum has been carefully aligned with the Common Core State Standards and input was sought from students, teachers, and parents throughout the development process. The early grade levels, which include Pre-Kindergarten through second grade, follow a scripted curriculum that incorporates fun facts about transportation and includes numerous examples and learning activities.

The higher grade levels use an online Nemeth Symbol Library for ease in looking up any Nemeth symbol. Multiple terms commonly used by math teachers and technical Nemeth terms have been included so that students can easily find a Nemeth symbol. The library also contains numerous examples using Nemeth within UEB Contexts. Since not all students and textbooks have transitioned to the new code, the examples are also provided in the older code, Nemeth in English Braille, American Edition. Documents with SimBraille have also been included for easy reference by sighted teachers or parents. By popular demand, even more symbols have been added dipping down into Nemeth symbols used in the earlier grades as well.

To bridge the gap from the scripted curriculum used in the earlier grades to the more independent searchable library, and in response to feedback from dozens of students, the Nemeth Braille Code Focused Lessons were also developed. They are designed to help students learn the Nemeth symbols primarily used in grades 3 – 8 and increase their knowledge and understanding of key mathematical concepts. However, students of any age may enjoy and learn from these lessons, especially if they need a refresher or additional practice with Nemeth symbols.

Learning the Nemeth symbols and how they are used in mathematics will allow students to be able to read materials presented in math class as well as communicate their responses in a written form. Otherwise, their participation and access to the math curriculum may be limited.

Individuals with visual impairments are underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields, and as students, they often have lower achievement in mathematics and science compared to their sighted peers (Cavenaugh, 2006; National Science Foundation, 2009; Rosenblum & Herzberg, 2015; Rule, Stefanich, Boody, & Peiffer, 2011).

Students who become proficient in Nemeth Code and are fully included in general education math classes are more likely to consider STEM fields and achieve at higher levels in mathematics.

Practical Skills

  • The participants will be able to identify three strategies that can be used to teach Nemeth Code to young students who read braille.
  • The participants will be able to make connections between learning the Nemeth Code and learning math from Pre-K through Eighth Grade and beyond.
  • The participants will be able to locate symbols and examples for a particular part of the Nemeth Code.

Presentation Materials