“Grasping” Math Concepts – Creating Options for Students

Handouts Media

Presented at 11:15am in Virtual C on Wednesday, November 18, 2020.



  • Catherine M. Stager, Assistive Technology Specialist, FRCC BCC
  • Peggy Copeland, Director, FRCC BCC
  • Lori Wright, Instructor, Front Range Community College Boulder County Campus
  • Samuel L. White, Special Education major, University of Northern Colorado

Session Details

  • Length of Session: 45 minutes
  • Format: Interactive/Discussion
  • Expertise Level: All Levels
  • Type of session: Pre-conference


Students completing math requirements in the community college system face issues with accessibility and usability of the materials they are offered. One solution has been to create access to information using multi-modal interaction. Incorporating the concepts of universal design, making math "graspable" in a directed study proved successful!


Students arrive at community colleges with diverse backgrounds and abilities. It is not uncommon for students to struggle with required math courses. We encountered the challenge of the students being offered the same course with the same tools despite not having been able to successfully complete the course initially. To counter this barrier we created a directed study that would cover the same concepts while being able to offer tactile and kinetic interaction to support acquisition of these previously elusive concepts. Join us to learn some of the tools that we used, some of the solutions that helped us, and what we will take forward from this experience. This session will include discussion of math tools and the opportunity to ask questions of the student and teacher about this multi-modal math class. To quote the student, "I’ll probably talk about this math class for years to come and use it as not only "this is how I did it" but can we approach things like this in the future?"


  1. Universally designed learning can create access to Math concepts and survive the switch to online learning.
  2. Math tools with accessibility built-in provide support and pairing these with manipulatives reinforces the concepts.
  3. Everyone involved in teaching with UDL learns from new perspectives which can lead to supporting fresh ways to offer content.

Disability Areas

Cognitive/Learning, Mobility, Vision

Topic Areas

Accessible Course Design, Accessible Educational Materials, Assistive Technology

Speaker Bio(s)

Catherine M. Stager

Cath has specialized in assistive technology, universal design, web accessibility and creating access to Academia and technology for over twenty years. She has worked with students, faculty and staff at both Colorado State University and University of Colorado-Boulder and has presented regionally and nationally on Universal Design, Accessibility, Assistive Technology and Disability Rights, Responsibilities & Accommodations within Higher Education for Students with Disabilities

Cath is one of the founding members of the Assistive Technology Higher Education Network (ATHEN) (http://athenpro.org/). She is a Certified Usability Analyst and a lifelong learner. She is a long-time supporter/presenter for the Accessing Higher Ground: Accessible Media, Web and Technology Conference. Cath currently is an Assistive Technology Specialist at Front Range Community College Boulder County Campus.

In addition to being passionate about accessibility, Cath loves to take walks, to go hiking or camping, and to spend time with family and friends!

Peggy Copeland

Peggy Copeland has over 20 years of higher education experience serving in various roles. Currently, she serves in her pinnacle role as Director of Disability Support Services (DSS), Boulder County Campus, Front Range Community College, Longmont, CO. Previous experience includes Professor of Psychology; Clinical Vision Therapist; Retention Specialist/Academic Success Coach for students; and Co-Director of a campus Student Success Center. Ms. Copeland holds a Master’s degree in Educational Psychology with expertise in neuro-cognitive and psycho-social developmental phenomena of the individual, with a focus on neuro-typical and a-typical learning needs from the University of Colorado, Boulder. She also holds an undergraduate degree in psychology with a minor philosophy. Ms. Copeland is passionate about supporting the process of removing educational barriers for students with disabilities. She and her DSS team consistently strive to educate and implement accessible educational tools and procedures in every possible campus facet through a lens of Universal Design.

Lori Wright

Lori Wright, PhD, has been working with Front Range Community College Boulder County Mathmatics since 2018. She also works in curriculum development and is interested in making math more usable for all populations.

Samuel L. White