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Ambiguity in speech is a possible barrier to the acquisition of knowledge for students who have print disabilities (such as blindness, visual impairments, and some specific learning disabilities) and rely on auditory input for learning. Chemistry appears to have considerable potential for being spoken ambiguously and may be a barrier to accessing knowledge and to learning. Educators in chemistry may be unaware of, or have limited awareness of, potential ambiguity in speaking chemistry and may speak chemistry ambiguously to their students. One purpose of this paper is to increase awareness of potential ambiguity in speaking chemistry and other STEM fields and the ramifications of ambiguity. Another purpose is to introduce rules (known as MathSpeak) for non-ambiguous speaking of mathematics that could be adapted for use in chemistry. Reducing ambiguity in speaking chemistry may enhance learning of chemistry and could encourage students who have blindness, visual impairments, and/or other print disabilities to pursue careers in STEM fields.
Isaacson, Mick D. and Michaels, Michelle
"Ambiguity in Speaking Chemistry and other STEM Content: Educational Implications,"
Journal of Science Education for Students with Disabilities: Vol. 18
Available at: http://scholarworks.rit.edu/jsesd/vol18/iss1/2