Accessible Science Resources

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

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)

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: MathSciGraphCalc2@gmail.com

  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":  https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/scientific-graphing-calculator/id1066347637?mt=8   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:  https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/free-graphing-calculator/id378009553?mt=8
  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.

Three online courses are available to help "teachers make their classrooms universal and accessible to students with and without disabilities." The section on learners who are blind or visually impaired includes advice for making the science classroom and curriculum accessible.

Source: The Center for Assistive Technology and Environmental Access

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.

The New York Hall of Science in Queens, New York, is a hands-on science museum that is designed to improve people's understanding of science and technology through exhibits, programs, and various media. Learn more about some of the accessibility features of this museum in this article.

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

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

Source: Spacesounds.com

Click on the Vision - Tech Tutorial, then browse through this list of resources offered by SET-BC, a program of the Canadian Ministry of Education. Their list includes a few unique resources on French language features of Windows and JAWS.

Source: Special Education Technology British Columbia

Offering the most recent data, this is "your one-stop source for statistical facts, figures, and resources about Americans with vision loss," including visual impairment prevalence, population estimates, mobility, children's use of braille, computer use, marital status, employment and educational attainment. State by state prevalence statistics can be found here.

Source: American Foundation for the Blind (AFB)

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.

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