Accessible Science Resources

Find out what's new and learn more about resources related to accessible science.

Cary Supalo shares his strategies for a positive experience in chemistry classes.  He describes the importance of obtaining materials in alternate formats, note-taking, creating three-dimensional models, and working closely with lab technicians, scribes, and readers.

Source: Future Reflections (2002), National Federation of the Blind (NFB)

Maylene Bird provides step-by-step instructions for building cell models for biology, including ideas for organelles and sample cell diagrams.

Source: Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (TSBVI)

Future Reflections (2002).

Bernhard Beck-Winchatz asserts that "there is nothing a blind person could not do as well" in the field of astronomy. He co-developed Touch the Universe – A NASA Braille Book of Astronomy, which makes Hubble Space Telescope images accessible to people who are blind or visually impaired.

Source: National Federation of the Blind (NFB)

Cell Zone offers biology education products that incorporate universal design for learning (UDL) to include more learners in biology. Their products cover many topics in biology classes, including cells, biological molecules, diversity, and cell division.

Pictured here is the contents of a Dynamic Cell Model kit.



This two-page document from Iowa Educational Services from the Blind and Visually Impaired lists accommodations to the Foss Chemical Interactions course for students with visual impairments.  Topics include:

  • Mystery Mixture
  • Mixing Substances
  • Capture the Gas
  • Air is Matter

and more!

In this Ted Talk shared with me by a friend, Chieko Asakawa, a woman who is blind, discusses the ways that accessibility has ignited innovation.   Examples given include the invention of the telephone as a communication tool for people with hearing loss and some keyboards invented to help people with disabilities.

She speaks of the value of her work in making the internet more accessible for individuals with disabilities in the development of  the IBM Home Page Reader. 

She ends her brief talk (about 10 minutes) with an incredible demonstration of how new SmartPhone technology will allow individuals with visual impairment to experience as yet unimagined levels of independence.  


This list of common abbreviations may be helpful in interpreting an eye report.

Source: Root Eye Network

This site includes a list of free and low-cost educational software and an online glossary.

Researchers Margilee Hilson, Sally Hobson, and Tiffany Wild present information about their study of science camps for students who are blind or visually impaired. They specifically looked at a camp with theme of biodiversity across ecosystems. The full study is published in the Journal of Blindness Innovation and Research (JBIR), Vol 6, No 2 (2016).

This adaptation of a classic experiment demonstrates how to make chemical reaction/conservation of mass accessible to students who are blind or visually impaired.

Source: Perkins eLearning

The inTACT Sketchpad makes it easy to create tactile graphics quickly, for whatever situation you are in. You simply draw with a stylus on the tactile film and a raised line appears under your fingertips. The inTACT Sketchpad has many applications, from drawing up a diagram of a room in order to orient someone to explaining Microsoft Word’s Excel.

One great use for the inTACT Sketchpad is in the classroom, specifically regarding math and science. The applications are endless, but I have demonstrated one here. The image on this page shows a basic animal cell (left) and plant cell (right) drawn on the inTACT Sketchpad side by side. To teach the basic structure of a cell, draw a simple diagram on the inTACT Sketchpad, so the student can feel what the different parts of the cell are. You can take it a step further by having the student feel the similarities and differences between each type of cell (the parts of the cell the animal and plant cell have in common are shown by the red lines, while the parts that are unique to a plant cell are shown by the blue lines). This is just one small example of how benefical it is to have an inTACT Sketchpad in the classroom!


Ron Stewart describes the collaboration between Science Access Project and Technology Access Project at Oregon State University in "conducting the research and development of a variety of technologies that focus specifically on access to mathematical and hard science content for the print disabled."

Source: ATHEN (Access Technologists Higher Education Network)

Explains the differences between vision screening, testing, and eye examinations.

Source: Vision First Foundation

TSBVI shares instructional resources; sign up for a password and download the Periodic Table of Elements, Elements Listed by Name, Elements Listed by Atomic Number, PH Scale, Nemeth Code Reference Sheets, and Set Notation.

Source: Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (TSBVI)

In this video, Dr. Cary Supalo explains the Sci-Voice Talking LabQuest and demonstrates some experiments that can be done with it.

Have your science and eat it too!  Two students from the the Center for Innovation at the University of Arizona have come up with the idea of Edible Optics, which combines the love of candy with the notion that we can learn about optics in fun way. The lenses are concocted with sugar, gelatin, and water to magnify at a specified power.  

Make your own telescope or play around with lenses made out of sugar. Use a microwave to create these or order them through the site.

The Lens Lollipop Lesson Plan is designed for students in grades 1-6 to examine and compare different types of lenses (concave and convex).

Find out more at:

Understanding the many risks to our eyes at home and in the garden.

Source: American Academy of Ophthalmology

Interesting features and practical advice on vision care, eye conditions and treatment, glasses, and lenses.

Short videos that give brief overviews about assistive technology in FSDB classrooms, showing how and why the devices support learning. Includes the Braille Notetaker, interactive whiteboards, and Mountbatten braille writer.

A team of educators, including Science Teacher Jeff Killebrew from New Mexico School for the Blind, flew on the SOFIA mission to observe NASA science operations first hand.  Killebrew discusses the obstacles that students with visual impairments face in entering the STEM fields and he notes the importance of getting them excited about it.  He explains the importance of creating tactile graphics to make concepts such as infrared accessible to students who are blind.  He also shares an embossed version of the SOFIA aircraft which shows where the telescope is in relation to the overall shape of the plane.


Teachers discuss ways to bring their newly acquired knowledge back to their students, with the hope of bringing students who are under-represented (women, minorities and people with disabilities) in STEM fields.