Accessible Science Resources

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

SCIVIS (Space Camp for Interested Visually Impaired Students) offers a wonderful opportunity each September for students in grades 4-12 who are interested in Science and Math to attend a week-long camp . SCIVIS is:

  • A week long camp that takes place at the US Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama
  • Coordinated by teachers of the visually impaired
  • Accessible; computers used by students in the Space Camp Programs have been adapted for speech and large print output; materials and equipment used during missions are available in braille and large print
  • Participatory - students participate fully (each student is screened based on their eye medical condition --limitations may be placed on some)
 
SCIVIS is actually 4 separate programs:
  • Space Camp (grade 4-6)
  • Space Academy (grade 7-9)
  • Advanced Academy focus on space travel. (grade 10-12)
  • Aviation Challenge  (programs for grades 4-6, 7-9, 10-12)

Download the flyer.

 

What will students learn?

Space Camp Activities Correlated with National Science Education Standards Content Standards 9th- 12th Grade

In addition to learning science and math, students consistenly increase their self-esteem and learn skills related to the Expanded Core Curriculum (ECC).

What is the cost?

The cost for the program is $700, which covers room, board, and the program, but not transportation.

Scholarships are available from

SCIVIS (Space Camp for Interested Visually Impaired Students) offers a wonderful opportunity each September for students in grades 4-12 who are interested in Science and Math to attend a week-long camp .  SCIVIS is:

  • A week long camp that takes place at the US Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama
  • Coordinated by teachers of the visually impaired
  • Accessible; computers used by students in the Space Camp Programs have been adapted for speech and large print output; materials and equipment used during missions are available in braille and large print
  • Participatory - students participate fully (each student is screened based on their eye medical condition --limitations may be placed on some)
 
SCIVIS is actually 4 separate programs:
  • Space Camp (grade 4-6)
  • Space Academy (grade 7-9)
  • Advanced Academy focus on space travel. (grade 10-12)
  • Aviation Challenge  (programs for grades 4-6, 7-9, 10-12)

Download the flyer.

 

What will students learn?

Space Camp Activities Correlated with National Science Education Standards Content Standards 9th- 12th Grade

In addition to learning science and math, students consistenly increase their self-esteem and learn skills related to the Expanded Core Curriculum (ECC).

What is the cost?

The cost for the program is $700, which covers room, board, and the program, but not transportation.

Scholarships are available from

This article describes a submersible audible light sensor, which is a hand-held device that emits an audio signal that tracks reactions in a solution in real time.

This site features recordings of space phenomena, exploration missions and SPACEthoughts, addressing questions about the vastness of the universe.

Source: Spacesounds.com

Resources offered by SET-BC, a program of the Canadian Ministry of Education, include Tech Tutorials on Access, Communication, Differentiation, Learning, and Vision.

Source: Special Education Technology British Columbia

The Space Center of Houston is offering a summer program for students who are visually impaired.   It is set to run Aug. 8-10 for ages 15-18 years old.  

This pilot program is modified from the existing Space Center U and combines classroom theory with cognitive and tactile tasks, which promote teamwork, solving problems, communication and engineering solutions to space-related situations. The program is designed to develop and improve critical-thinking skills, fiscal responsibility, creativity and the drive to be successful.

The science, technology, engineering and math, (STEM) training at Space Center U includes connections to real-world NASA experiences such as robotics, thermal protection systems, rocketry and parachute design.

Participants will be inspired as they go on exclusive tours of the shuttle replica Independence atop the historic NASA 905 shuttle carrier aircraft and touch a moon rock and a piece of Mars! A graduation ceremony will celebrate the students’ accomplishments and an exclusive astronaut Q&A.

VI Program was developed jointly by Space Center Houston’s accessibility and inclusion coordinator and the Space Center U coordinator, as well as local experts, to meet the needs of students with low vision or blindness. A variety of visual assisting devices and technology will be provided to participants. Tactile examples of key concepts will be given and page magnifiers and high-contrast materials will be available.

 

Learn more.

 

From the Exceptional Science website:

The Tactile Atlas of Biology includes print and contracted braille.  Diagrams are shown using raised lines of multiple sizes, tactile textures, and raised graphics allowing students who are blind to better understand biology.  Low vision students will also benefit as all the raised graphics are in high contrast sharp color.

 

Diagrams include:

  • food chain
  • muscle cell and nerve cell 
  • cell membrane 
  • chloroplast and mitochondria
  • DNA
  • Cell differentiation
  • main tissue of a plant
  • unicellular organisms
  • buds growing into branches
  • open and closed stomata
  • photosynthesis

And more.

This book is spiral bound heavy card stock paper with thin plastic backing.

From the Exceptional Teaching Website:

The Tactile Atlas of Electricity includes print and contracted braille.  Diagrams are shown using raised lines of multiple sizes, tactile textures and raised graphics allowing students who are blind to better understand electricity.  Low vision students will also benefit as all the raised graphics are in high contrast sharp color.

Diagrams include magnetism, interaction of electric charge, magnetic field of electric current, electricity and magnetism, symbol of electric circuit, series circuit and current, parallel circuit ad current, voltage of series circuit, voltage of parallel circuit, Ohm's law, and more 

This book is spiral bound heavy card stock paper with thin plastic backing. 

Sarah Hughes, who is the Deputy Headteacher at the Royal Blind School, Edinburgh, UK, has created a tactile model of the digestive system, using knitted materials.  This video shows how it can be used to help students who are blind or visually impaired to understand the digestive system more clearly.

More STEM apps are becoming available with the tactile talking pen and an entire STEM binder is available for $300.00.   For those not familiar with the pen the following is from the Touch Graphics website.  Reviews of these apps will be completed as they are incorporated into instruction. 

Touch Graphics, in collaboration with scientists at the Smith Kettlewell Eye Research Institute, announces the Talking Tactile Pen! This tool achieves a new level of portability and sophistication in audio-tactile interactive computing. As students explore various raised-line and textured images,they touch the tip of a Livescribe Echo pen to any feature they would like to know about. The pen’s on-board computer determines its location on the tactile surface, then plays spoken descriptions through a tiny speaker or headphones. Subsequent taps in the same spot reveal more information. A simple user graphical user interface allows students to adjust volume, hear the previous message again or get help.The following apps are available for use with the tactile talking pen:https://www.perkinselearning.org/accessible-science/talking-tactile-pen

Each app includes a physical sheet and a CD:

  • Gulf of Mexico
  • Solar System
  • Human Brain
  • Flowering Plant
  • Motor Neuron
  • Bridges
  • Human Skeleton
  • Shark Anatomy
  • Mitosis
  • Periodic Table

 

 

  • The STEM Binder is available for $300.00
  • To order, please use the above link.  
  • You will be prompted to enter your contact info in order to place your order or to order by phone at 1-800-884-2440

Touch Graphics, in collaboration with scientists at the Smith Kettlewell Eye Research Institute, announces the Talking Tactile Pen! This tool achieves a new level of portability and sophistication in audio-tactile interactive computing. As students explore various raised-line and textured images,they touch the tip of a Livescribe Echo pen to any feature they would like to know about. The pen’s on-board computer determines its location on the tactile surface, then plays spoken descriptions through a tiny speaker or headphones. Subsequent taps in the same spot reveal more information. A simple user graphical user interface allows students to adjust volume, hear the previous message again or get help.

The Talking Tactile Pen comes with a charging cable and non-ink stylus. The smart pan can be used to record lectures or to interact with our STEM Apps. The included STEM Binder is a rigid loose leaf book for holding your pen and your growing collection of STEM Apps.

A 51 page manual from 2000 full of tips for adapting science experiments for students who are blind or visually impaired. Written by Matthew Dion, Karen Hoffman, and Amy Matter from Worcester Polytechnic Institute. It includes sections on Teaching the Blind and Visually Impaired, General Guidelines for Making Adaptations, Laboratory Adaptations, Specific Experiments, and a Resource List.

Source: Perkins eLearning, Perkins School for the Blind

This 51-page manual is full of practical tips for adapting science experiments for students who are blind or visually impaired.  Written by Matthew Dion, Karen Hoffman, and Amy Matter from Worcester Polytech, the manual includes the following sections:

  • Teaching the Blind and Visually Impaired
  • General Guidelines for Making Adaptations
  • Laboratory Adaptations
  • Specific Experiments
  • Resource List

This 75-page manual has sections on the classroom, testing and evaluation, assistive technology, accessible computing, laboratory techniques, mentoring and advocacy, and principles of universal design to create accessibility for all.

Source: American Chemical Society Committee on Chemists with Disabilities

Sheryl Burgstahler examines some of the specific challenges that students with disabilities face in both gaining and demonstrating knowledge. She lists accommodation suggestions for students with visual impairments.

Source: University of Washington

The VISIONS Lab produces educational materials for visually impaired students and develops new adaptive technologies; this site discusses accommodations for college-level organic chemistry and calculus.

Source: Purdue University's VISIONS Lab, Rochester Institute of Technology

This article describes the Purdue's VISIONS Lab, (Visually Impaired Students Initiative on Science), which is a research laboratory dedicated to providing access to the numerous science courses at the university.

Source: Information Technology and Disabilities Journal, 3 (4) 1996

Kurt Herzer, a premed student at Johns Hopkins University who is legally blind, recommends that professors make classroom and course materials accommodations that suit the specific needs of the individual student.

Wanda Merced, having lost her vision as a young woman in college, continued in her study of physics.  She speaks about the uncommon practice of "listening to the stars"  Her audience is asked to wear blindfolds as she describes the sonification of data. She proceeds to allow the students to "listen" to the stars.  A brief fascinating talk worth 15 minutes of your time.

This Ted Talk features Chelsea Cook, who is a physics major at Virginia tech. She enjoys astronomy, reading, and creative writing. Her ultimate goal is to become an astronaut who writes poetry in space. In her talk "Creating Interfaces, Creating Experiences," Chelsea questions how we handle problems and how we can solve them by taking another perspective.

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