Accessible Science Resources

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

Information on glaucoma's impact on vision, living with the disease, treatment, and research.

Includes visual screening importance, guidelines, and procedures.

Source: Colorado Department of Education

This site describes Touch the Universe: A NASA Braille Book of Astronomy, which uses embossed images of planets, nebulae, stars, and galaxies to make it accessible to readers who are blind and visually impaired. The site includes released images, text, videos, Fast Facts, and related links.

Source: HubbleSite

Astrophysicists Jabran Zahid and Wanda Diaz Merced recently taught a hands-on lesson to secondary school students at the Perkins School for the Blind.  They led students in two activities designed to give them a sense of the size and scale of the planets, as well as their distance from the sun and each other.

The first lesson used folded pieces of paper whereby the creases illustrate the distance between planets.

The second lesson used playdoh to show the relative size difference between the planets.

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Contains A-Z information on diseases and disorders of the eye, basic eye anatomy, and eye care resources; also available in Spanish.

Source: National Eye Institute (NEI)

Find out more about the history of teaching science at Perkins School for the Blind, including a tactile museum featuring objects from the natural world and science disciplines.

Source: Perkins History Museum—Perkins School for the Blind

An Austin college professor creates an open-access tutorial for physics students.

Source: The Chronicle of Higher Education

How visual acuity is calculated using the Snellen Eye Chart.

Source: Prevent Blindness

Independence Science provides talking and sensory products to increase accessibility in the science lab. This is a robust website of technological and tactile solutions or experimentation and modeling.

ILAB, or Independent Laboratory Access for the Blind was a research project funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation, which led to the establishment of Independence Science.  The site includes videos on the following topics:

  • talking tools for science experiments
  • safely setting up and organizing a laboratory bench
  • safely conducting laboratory experiments

In addition, the site has sections on laboratory tools, experiments, classroom tools, and other links.

ILAB presents information on speech-accessible tools as well as modified laboratory procedures, which will enable students who are blind or visually impaired to perform chemistry laboratory experiments without sighted assistance.  The site includes information on laboratory tools, experiments, and tactile chemistry.

The study of geologic phenomena by the visually impaired and blind is challenging owing to the dominance of sight-based delivery methods used in geoscience classroom and field studies. By using a comparative tactual analysis, a non-sighted geology student can observe physical changes in the textural character of weathered surfaces.

In their Summer News Blast DCMP (Described and Captioned Media Program) focuses on the lack of girls in engineering programs.  They include a video about inspiring the next generation of girl engineers featuring engineer Debbie Sterling and an engineering toy for girls that she created.  They also share a video on career options for women in engineering, which introduces three women who are working as engineers.  DCMP has a whole series of videos on career options for women, which can help to promote career exploration among girls in non-traditional occupations.  All videos are described and accessible.

The Azer's Interactive Periodic Table Study Set is available from American Printing House for the Blind (APH) and is designed to make learning about the periodic table of the elements accessible to students who are blind or visually impaired.  This set can assist in the instruction and demonstration of concepts related to the arrangement of the periodic table, atomic structure, ionic and covalent bonding, and balancing of chemical equations to students who benefit from a hands-on, interactive model.

The student-made video shows how the study set can be used.

Statistics on blindness and visual impairment in the United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland)

Source: Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB)

The hands-on molecular models that can be built using any of the Molymod kits work well for all students. Molymod is a trademark of Spiring Enterprises Ltd., Billingshurst, West Sussex, England.  RH 14 9 EZ. Many vendors, including Flinn Scientific sell these educational models for instruction in general and organic chemistry.  The models' atoms are brightly colored plastic which is uniform through all the sets.  For example, red is oxygen, Black is carbon,  and the smaller white ones are hydrogen.   The atoms also have holes that represent the available bonding spots of the valence electrons of each atom.  These bonding spots make the atoms easy for students with no vision to identify tactually. 


Most students find assembly of these models very easy to do using the variety of bonds that come with the kits.  The shapes created represent the actual geometry of various molecules and compounds.  The 3-D models are a much easier for a student with a visual impairment to understand that tactile drawings which are flat. 


Students with limited hand strength may find the models difficult to assembel. Working with a lab partner is one way to overcome the limitation, the studnet with the stronger hand stregth can do the assemble while the other studnet identifies and hands the needd atoms to the lab partner. 

In some cases the tactile atoms may feel exactly the same while the color is strikingly different. For example, in the kits, phosphorus is the same size as carbon, and has 4 bonding spots.  However phosphorus is light purple to differentiate it from carbon which is black.  Many students can see the difference but a student who lacks color vision or is totally blind would not. This can be remedied by placing  tactile stickers on the phosphorus atoms to make them tactually different, or by working with a lab partner that has color vision. 

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This video from Washington State School for the Blind demonstrates how to safely organize and set up a laboratory bench for students with visual impairments.  Dr. Greg Williams from Independence Science discusses ways in which students who are blind or who have low vision can actively participate in hands-on experiments.  

Future Reflections (2003.

Penny Leigh describes the Multisensory Space Science Kit, developed by South Carolina School of the Deaf and the Blind and NASA. She describes adaptations to teach the proximity between planets, an Alphabet of Space, and a tactile map of the solar system.

Source: National Federation of the Blind (NFB)

Examples of accessible biology lessons are provided by experienced teachers of the visually impaired.

Source: Perkins School for the Blind