Accessible Science Resources

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

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!


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.

The free downloadable Earth+ software "makes NASA satellite photos and data accessible to blind students … using sound cues about the features in the picture."  Included are lessons on hurricane tracking and hurricane prediction

Source: National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

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:

NCAM conducted a three-year study project, which ended in 2007, "to research and document effective practices for providing meaningful descriptions of non-text science content for postsecondary students or scientists who have visual impairments or are blind." The team will create a recommended practices report and a training manual.

Source: National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM)

Kara Furlong's multi-media article discusses a new pen computer that may help students with a visual impairment study science and math. She also reports on a grant to address "learning among blind college students in the STEM content areas – science, technology, engineering and math."

Source: Vanderbilt University

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.

Formerly titled ViewPoints, "this half-hour weekly radio program and podcast discusses products, services and daily living tips for people with vision loss." Hosted and produced by Peter Torpey and Nancy Goodman Torpey.

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. 

A video demonstration of testing to determine the scope of visual field; downloads to user's desktop.

Source: The Eyes Have It

The Full Option Science System (FOSS) available through Delta Education provides a hands-on curriculum, which is vital for maintaining interest and promoting learning for students. Particularly useful components for students with VI include the Magnetism and Electricity Kit.

The following brief description is from the FOSS Website.

The Full Option Science System™ (FOSS) philosophy is to engage students in science through active learning. Whether you want to generally embrace the vision of A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas (2012) or follow more closely the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) with the integration of the Common Core State Standards in ELA and Math, there's a FOSS edition that will support your goals. Each edition shares the same research-based strategies that the FOSS developers at the Lawrence Hall of Science have been refining for more than 25 years.

Every FOSS investigation follows a similar design to provide multiple exposures to science concepts. The design includes these pedagogies:

  • Active investigation, including outdoor experiences
  • Recording in science notebooks to answer the focus question
  • Reading in FOSS Science Resources
  • Assessment to monitor progress and motivate student reflection on learning

In practice, these components are seamlessly integrated into a continuum designed to maximize every student's opportunity to learn. An instructional sequence may move from one pedagogy to another and back again to ensure adequate coverage of a concept.


APH has made many of the guidebooks for their products available for free including some of the science resources including the following:

  • Adapting Science for Students with Visual Impairment: Advanced Preparation and Skills Checklist
  • Basic Science Tactile Graphics
  • Basic Tactile Anatomy Atlas
  • Life Science Tactile Graphics
  • DNA/RNA kit
  • Sense of Science: Animals
  • Sence of Science: Plants

The latest edition of the Visual Impairment and Deafblind Education Quarterly (VIDBEQ) is devoted to STEM.  

The table of contents for Vol. 61, Issue 4 (2016) includes:

  • Making Astronomy Accessible for Students with Visual Impairments Through NASA’s Airborne Astronomy Ambassador Program
By Jeffrey Killebrew, Science Teacher, TVI, The New Mexico School for the Blind & Visually Impaired
  • Determining the Effectiveness of an Adaptive Science Curriculum for Students who are Visually Impaired
By Heather Browne, Student, Kutztown University
  • Introducing the New Assistive Technology Credential and Project VITALL University Training Program
By Stacy M. Kelly, Ed.D., TVI, COMS, CATIS, Associate Professor, Visual Disabilities Program, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, IL
  • iOS in the Classroom: A Guide for Teaching Students with Visual Impairments - Book Review
By Kim Picard, Technology Instructor, The Ohio State School for the Blind
  • Creating Access to Computer Science: Enhancing Engagement and Learning for Students with Visual Impairments
By Karen Mutch-Jones and Debra Bernstein, TERC and Stephanie Ludi, University of North Texas
  • Integrating Math and Science into Camp Activities at The Ohio State School for the Blind
By Cecelia Peirano, TVI, The Ohio State School for the Blind and Robin Finley, TVI, The Ohio State School for the Blind
  • Using Adapted Materials in Mathematics for Students with Visual Impairments and Additional Disabilities

By Dr. Nicole Johnson & Dr. Anne Brawand, Kutztown University


Published quarterly, this journal is a publication of the Council for Exceptional Children’s Division on Visual Impairments and DeafBlindness (CECDVIDB).  It is available online in html, PDF or Word document format.  See the full listing of all issues and formats.

An explanation of the functional field of vision test, with definitions of terms.

Source: Lea-Test

This page describes the book Touch the Sun, which allows blind and visually impaired students to experience images of the sun and solar activity by feeling transparent raised textures bonded to the pictures.

Source: National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

North Dakota Vision Services/School for the Blind (NDVS-SB) has created a video about a new tactile resource from NASA called “Getting a Feel for Eclipses”.  It is designed to give students who are blind or visually impaired a way to experience the solar eclipse that will happen this summer.

The book Getting a Feel for Eclipses explains details surrounding the August 2017 total solar eclipse with tactile graphics providing an illustration of the interaction and alignment of the Sun with the Moon and the Earth. Associated activities will clarify the nature of eclipses.  Learn more about this book from NASA's Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute.


The video below introduces "Getting a Feel for Eclipses".