Kids can struggle with many aspects of math, from understanding math concepts to doing simple arithmetic. Tackling word problems and writing out math equations may also be hard for them. Fortunately, assistive technology (AT) software is getting more useful all the time. A wide range of features can help kids with calculation, understanding concepts, writing out math, and solving basic to advanced math problems.
Here are some of the tools available in computer programs and tablet apps:
- Calculators that do more than just basic calculations
- Math notation tools to type symbols and equations for math, physics, and chemistry
- Graphing tools to plot the path of an equation
- Drawing tools for drawing lines, shapes, and other geometric objects
- Equation-solving tools to help students solve problems step-by-step and explain their reasoning (example: x = 2y – x → x = y)
- Virtual manipulatives to illustrate abstract math concepts — students can work with interactive digital objects to visually work out math problems and aid understanding
- Math-to-speech, a special kind of text-to-speech (TTS) to read aloud math expressions or equations
- Speech-to-math, a special kind of dictation (speech recognition) to type out math expressions and equations a child speaks
Program and price | Key features | User experience | |
---|---|---|---|
Calculators built into devices: Free Many free calculators apps for specific purposes can be downloaded for mobile devices (iPhone, iPad, Android). |
| With the calculator: Kids can do simple arithmetic or more complex math. They can choose between a basic four-function calculator and scientific or programming calculators. Some calculators can also convert between common measures. For example, they can convert meters to feet, pounds to kilograms, or Celsius to Fahrenheit. With the TTS (macOS): It becomes a talking calculator, speaking the buttons as they’re pressed and reading aloud the answers. This can reduce errors when entering numbers and operations and when copying the answer. | |
ModMath: Free (iPad) ModMath Pro: $4.99 (iPad) |
| With the digital math grid: Kids can use an onscreen math keyboard to enter numbers, symbols, and variables to write out math expressions on digital graph paper. ModMath works best with stacked math problems (+ – × ÷) through basic algebra. Kids can print out completed work or email it to their teacher. With the math image importer: Kids can snap a photo of a math problem (from a textbook or a worksheet) and enter the image on the grid instead of typing in the problem. This can reduce copying errors and is often quicker. | |
Mathshare: Free (online) |
| With Mathshare: Students are prompted to solve multi-step math problems by breaking the problem into smaller parts. Students can also explain their thinking on each step via typing or dictation. This allows the teacher to see the student’s reasoning and identify which steps the student has and hasn’t mastered. With the math-to-speech: Students can hear each step of the math solution read aloud accurately. | |
EquatIO: $100/year (Mac, Windows, Chrome) |
| With the math and chemistry notation tools: Kids can enter correctly formatted math or chemistry expressions by typing, dictation (speech-to-math), or handwriting (works best with touchscreen or graphics tablet and legible handwriting). With the math and chemistry prediction: Typing the name for a math or chemistry symbol will display a list of possible choices. For example, typing “sq” displays options for drawing a square, or for entering an exponent of 2 or a square root symbol. With the math image importer: Using EquatIO’s mobile companion app, kids can snap a photo of a math problem (from a textbook or a worksheet) and transfer the image to EquatIO instead of typing in the problem. This can reduce copying errors and is often quicker. With the graphing tool: Using digital graph paper, kids can type equations to draw graphs, plot points, and draw lines and curves. With the collaborative workspace (“mathspace”): Students and teachers can write, sketch, and draw to work on math problems together. With math-to-speech: Equations created by EquatIO can be read aloud by Read&Write software. With the math screenshot reader: Kids can take a screenshot of math equations on the web and convert them to equations that can be edited and also read aloud by Read&Write.
| |
GeoGebra: Free (Mac, Windows, Chrome, iPad, online) GeoGebra Calculator Suite (Graphing, 3D Calculator, Geometry) |
| With the graphing tool: Using digital graph paper, kids can type equations to draw graphs, plot points, and draw lines and curves. With the drawing tool: Kids can draw objects such as polygons, ellipses, lines, and curves often used in geometry, and then label their drawings. Kids can also create 3D graphs and drawings, and then save or export their finished work in various formats. | |
FX Draw Tools: $65 (Mac or Windows) You can also add on the FX Draw Bonus Tools (FX Equation, FX Graph, and FX Stat). Free for qualified students whose disability makes math and science materials difficult to produce. |
| With the math notation: FX Equation lets kids quickly type out correctly formatted equations using only their keyboards. They can also easily insert the equations they create into Word, PowerPoint, and other programs. With the graphing tool: Kids can type out an equation and plot it or draw lines and curves directly on virtual graph paper. They can export or print out the results. With the drawing tool: Kids can draw objects such as polygons, ellipses, lines, and curves often used in geometry, and then label their drawings. Kids can also create 3D graphs and drawings, and add math notations, labels, shading, and notes to their work. | |
MathType: $39.95/year for students (Mac or Windows) ChemType (included with MathType Web) MathType Desktop (Mac or Windows) looks and works slightly differently from MathType Web (Google Docs or Slides). |
| With the math notation: Kids can create simple to complex math equations in word processing programs (Word, Pages, Google Docs) or presentation programs (PowerPoint, Keynote, Slides). MathType provides a toolbar with a comprehensive set of math symbols and templates for pre-algebra through calculus, statistics, and matrices. With the chemistry notation: Kids can write out chemistry formulas and equations using MathType’s special chemistry toolbar and symbols. The toolbar also includes an easily accessed periodic table of elements. | |
Math Learning Center apps: Free (iPad, Chrome, online) Mathigon Polypad: Free (online) | Virtual manipulatives | With Math Learning Center apps: Kids can move and arrange interactive objects to visually learn early math concepts like number lines, base 10 blocks, money, and fractions. With Mathigon Polypad: Kids can work with dozens of different interactive manipulatives within a full screen workspace. Manipulative categories include geometry, numbers, fractions, algebra, and probability. |
Assistive technology software offers kids who struggle with math a wide range of tools in a wide range of prices. For more ideas, explore free Chrome tools that help with math, along with other free tools available online. Tools that run on Chrome will also work with Microsoft’s Edge browser on PCs and Macs. You can also look into assistive technology that’s built into mobile devices.
Price and availability may vary but were accurate as of March 31, 2021. Understood does not endorse or receive financial compensation for the sale of any of these products.
Tell us what interests you
About the author
About the author
The Understood Team is made up of passionate writers and editors. Many of them have kids who learn and think differently.
Reviewed by
Reviewed by
Shelley Haven has spent more than 30 years helping individuals with physical, sensory, and cognitive challenges unlock their potential with technology.