Accessible Science Resources

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

Students from Perkins School for the Blind Outreach Program attended Space Camp.  During this experience, they have an opportunity to meet other students with visual impairments from all around the United States, while working on the Expanded Core Curriculum, as well as math and science skills.  Students talk about what they have done at Space Camp and they all enjoy the simulators.

This 5-minute video on YouTube presents the program and the experience of the students.


The PhET Interactive Simulations project at the University of Colorado Boulder creates free interactive math and science simulations. PhET sims are based on extensive education research and engage students through an intuitive, game-like environment where students learn through exploration and discovery.

PhET is committed to making the simulations accessible to all learners.  Their accessible simulations include: verbal descriptions and feedback, the use of sound and music to represent foundational science and mathematics relationships, and alternative navigation that moves beyond mouse or touch inputs. They are creating research-based, accessible STEM education resources to ensure that all students can experience the benefits of PhET Interactive Simulations.

The site includes teaching resources, with tips and strategies for including simulations in the classroom. They encourage teachers to share activities on the site.

The following description is from the APH Website:
This fun, colorful kit can be used for numerous educational and recreational activities! Use optional products for more possibilities.
Includes a felt covered board measuring 20 3/4 x 13 inches, and a wide variety of colorful VELCRO® brand-backed pieces that attach to the board in an infinite number of patterns. Features over 100 pieces in many shapes, sizes, textures, and colors. Extra VELCRO® brand hook material provided to create additional tactile pieces.

Sample Activities:

  • Mapping: streets, homes, offices, etc.
  • Charting: flow charts of organizations, family trees, processes, etc.
  • Basic concepts: shapes, numbers, geometry, etc. 
  • Art: provides a wonderful palette of shapes, textures, and colors to create your personal masterpiece

The large print/braille guidebook, which is included, has suggestions and sample layouts in print and raised-line graphic form.  

WARNING: CHOKING HAZARD — Small parts. Not intended for children ages 5 and under without adult supervision


Maylene Bird and Karen Poston describe how to use brailled squares or dark lined large squares on a whole sheet of paper with binder clips to represent the dominant and recessive traits. They include diagrams that can be downloaded in various formats.

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

This checklist of questions ensures that seniors get the information they need from eye care professionals.

Source: VisionAware

Students with visual impairment can be involved using radio methods to measure meteor impacts through NASA's SSERVI (Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute -- formerly Lunar Science Institute).

Please see the link for more detail.

Many thanks to my astronomy-loving colleague, Chris Tabb, for calling this resource to my attention.  

Produced by a collaboration between the Space Telescope Science Institute and SAS, Reach for the Stars is a free iBook available for download to use on an iPad. It presents students in grades 4-8 with a new approach to astronomy, using interactive interviews, graphs, interactive questions, and a glossary.  Reach for the Stars is fully accessible to students with visual impairments and is an exciting new resource to expose all students to critical STEM content.

Special Features include:
  • Voice-over screen reader on iPad compatibility
  • Refreshable Braille display compatibility
  • Sonification of data visualizations
  • Read-aloud functionality
  • Captioning
  • Tactile overlays for interactive images available from National Braille Press 
  • Printable 3-D models of Hubble Space Telescope and James Webb Space Telescope

This amazing iBook was created by Ada Lopez, Ed Summers, and Elena Sabbi.  Content is mapped to state standards.

TSynopses of current research findings, with links to further information and full texts.

Source: Sensory Processing Disorder Foundation

Kay Pruett and Jim Allan from Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (TSBVI) have compiled resources on robotics for students with visual impairments.

This paper offers "suggestions for modifying science instruction and instructional materials to meet the learning needs of visually impaired students," with "relevant examples in physical, chemical and biological sciences"; includes discussion of policy implications, alternative assessment and educational technology.

Source: Electronic Journal of Science Education

Here you'll find low-cost adaptation kits to bring meaning to science lessons for students with visual impairments. MDW also provides training workshops for staff working with blind science students. Also on this page, the Out of Sight book of science experiments for grades 2-5.

Lillian Rankel, a science teacher and Marilyn Winograd, Teacher of the Visually Impaired (TVI), have teamed up to create this website for teaching science to students who are blind or visually impaired.  Included are:

  • Learning Experiences in STEM at the Pre-K Through 4th Grade Levels
  • Podcast of an interview with Lillian and Marilyn
  • Strategies to Adapt Science Education for a Student who is Blind to Experience Full Participation in the Laboratory

Part of the Perkins Webinar series, this presentation provides an overview of the "5-E format" of an inquiry lesson, and discusses recent research on inquiry-based education for students with visual impairments.

Source: Perkins eLearning

This article describes people with visual impairments who have become successful in many scientific fields, including engineering, physics, oceanography, chemistry, and astrophysics.

Source: Access World, American Federation of the Blind (AFB)

The Science Kids website has a host of resources including the Weird Stuff section at the bottom left of the home page.  This section includes jokes, humor, and Weird Science. The site will be valuable for students to utilize while researching science project ideas in addition to general inquiry.  For students with low vision, there is a section of photos that are available and may be used at will.  Teachers will find a limited selection of lesson plans and video resources on the site. 

The following description is from the website:

Science Kids is the home of science & technology on the Internet for children around the world.  Learn more about the amazing world of science by enjoying our fun science experiments, cool facts, online games, free activities, ideas, lesson plans, photos, quizzes, videos & science fair projects.

This video clip from WSSB shows Greg Williams, Ph.D., from Independence Science discusses how to safely organize and set up a laboratory bench for students who are blind or visually impaired.

Source: Washington State School for the Blind

In this video from Washington State School for the Blind Dr. Greg Williams from Independence Science demonstrates how to safely conduct and analyze laboratory experiments with students who are blind or visually impaired. These techniques include recommendations for material preparation and a demonstration experiment, and adapted equipment.

This article discusses the use of sound, touch, and smell to study nature and science.

Source: Natural History Education, Science, Technology (NHEST)

Geerat J. Vermeij, a blind marine biologist who teaches at the University of California at Davis, discusses what a blind person needs in order to succeed in science.

Source: Braille Monitor (2004) National Federation of the Blind (NFB)

For your students with low vision who have to graph equations, and of course have to use graphing calculators, here is an inexpensive option you may want to consider. The following app was designed by William Jockush.  He would appreciate your feedback at:

  1. The student must have an iPad (or Android tablet) since viewing these things on an iPhone doesn't provide enough screen to take advantage of its new features.
  2. In the App Store, find the app called "Scientific Graphing Calculator 2":   The developer is William Jockush and the current version costs 99 cents.  He has a free iPhone/iPad version which does NOT include the bold lines and print, and a 99 cent version that DOES include them. However, I think the Android version includes those features on the free app.  Free version:
  1. This graphing calculator seems simple to use.  The  "explanations" of concepts are good and it has been previewed by low vision colleagues who liked it.
  2. The size of the graphs are larger than any hand-held scientific graphing calculator.  The updated version is even better because it includes (in Settings) the ability to choose larger fonts--and they are clear and readable--and there are bolder lines for the graphs.  It gives you a graph the size of your screen that is super-readable!  I expect these changes will make this app accessible to a lot more of our low vision students.

Many thanks to Margaret Edwards from Special Programs at TSBVI for bringing this excellent product to my attention.