A touch of mathematics: Coming to our senses by observing the visually impaired

Lourdes Figueiras, Abraham Arcavi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


During the last three decades, the impact of visualization processes on the teaching and learning of mathematics has been extensively researched. However, considerably less work has been devoted to haptic processes. In this paper, we describe and analyze the role of haptic processes from data collected in mathematics lessons taught in a school for blind students. The analysis builds upon studies from perception and also from teaching experiences in order to examine the teacher's and the students' hand movements and metaphors when handling solids of revolution and communicating verbally with each other about their insights. We highlight the powerful combination of the visual and the haptic components of their interactions for the conceptualization of mathematical experiences, and we also note the critical role mathematical language plays in supporting the teaching-learning processes in this context. Finally, we consider important educational implications not only for blind people, but for all students and teachers of mathematics. © 2013 FIZ Karlsruhe.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)123-133
JournalZDM - International Journal on Mathematics Education
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2014


  • Blind
  • Haptic perception
  • Metaphors
  • Solids of revolution
  • Visualization

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