Who Are the Scientists with a Visual Impairment?

By Laura Hospitál on Sep 11, 2015

Students research a scientist or mathematician of their choice who is blind or visually impaired and write an essay on the chosen individual.  


This assignment was designed to be done outside of class as an extra credit assignment but could be completed in class.
In this case, students will need the means to research the scientist of choice.  I would recommend taking the class to the library to research or allowing students to work on devices if internet access is available. Assist as necessary.



Research the life and work of a scientist who is blind or visually impaired.  You may choose one from the following list or choose any other visually impaired scientist.

  • Kent Cullers - Astronomer
  • Dominique Francois Arago - Director of the Paris Observatory
  • Geerat (Gary) J. Verneij - Marine Biologist
  • Amy Bower - Oceanographer  (Book about her travels written by her husband, David Fisichella:  "Seven-Tenths: Love, Piracy and Science at Sea" may be available on Bookshare.)
  • Cary Supalo - Assistant Professor of Chemical Education at Illinois State University and founder of Independence Science
  • Robert Shelton - Mathematician, College Professor, Computer Scientist, and Project Manager.  He led the project to develop MathTrax and Math Description Engine (MDE) algorithm.
  • Craig Moore - Chemist with NASA
  • Greg Williams - Chemist, Independence Science
  • Marco Midon - NASA Engineer 
  • D. Curtis Willoughby - Electrical Engineer
  • Patricia Walsh - Engineer and Triathlete
  • Nathanael Wales - Civil Engineer
  • Marcus Schmidt - Engineer
  • Richard Oehm - Engineer
  • Henry "Hoby" Wedler - Chemist, (student at University of Cal-Davis)


  • The biography should be at least 1,000 words.  
  • At least 3 sources should be utilized.  
  • A bibliography is required.
  • Note:  You may use any type of writing support necessary as long as the words are yours.
  • You may receive help editing your paper. 


Credit for the assignment will be given as follows
  • 3 points toward final grade:  Well-researched, thoughtful, edited, and spell-checked. 
  • 2 points toward final grade:  Some editing and spelling errors.  Research not as thorough, but paper thoughtfully written
  • 1 point toward final grade:   Many editing and spelling errors.  Some thought was put into the paper, but research is not thorough and writing is not of high quality.
  • 0 points toward final grade:  Less than 1000 words and/or fewer than 3 sources.  


  • This assignment could also be given as an in-class assignment, if time allows. 
  • Scoring for the assignment can be changed as per the instructor.

NGSS Standards:

Grades 3-5 Engineering Design
Influence of Science, Engineering, and Technology on Society and the Natural World
People’s needs and wants change over time, as do their demands for new and improved technologies. (3-5-ETS1-1)
Engineers improve existing technologies or develop new ones to increase their benefits, decrease known risks, and meet societal demands. (3-5-ETS1-2)
Science is a Human Endeavor
Most scientists and engineers work in teams. (4-PS3-4)
Science affects everyday life. (4-PS3-4)
Middle School - Structure and Properties of Matter
Interdependence of Science, Engineering, and Technology
Engineering advances have led to important discoveries in virtually every field of science, and scientific discoveries have led to the development of entire industries and engineered systems. (MS-PS1-3)
Influence of Science, Engineering
scientists collage