AnimalWatch Vi: Building Graphics Literacy

Endangered animals and invasive species and MATH? This recently released iOS app incorporates motivating content used to build graphics literacy. Tasmanian Devils, African penguins and cane toads are woven into these instructional units. 

If a student is going to succeed in STEM, they need many skills including the ability to solve word problems and to locate and interpret information presented in graphics such as maps, bar graphs and box plots. APH has worked with the AnimalWatch Vi Team to make the two products they developed available to students who are blind or have low vision and are at the pre-algebra level.

Screenshot of the Cane Toad story and image of a brown toad with speckled stomach. Large print line chart, Total Distanced Traveled by Cane Toads in One Week, comparing toads traveling on paved road and on grass/shrubbery.

AnimalWatch Vi Suite AnimalWatch Vi Suites logo: a cartoon frog holding a magnifying glass in front of his eye.

The first app, AnimalWatch Vi Suites, aligns with the Common Core State Standards for 5th - 7th grade students, focusing on word problem solving skills. There are 24 units and within each unit, 2 of the 6 problems use graphics (e.g., maps, bar graphs, illustrations, tables). Students can visually view these graphics within the app or access hard copies in large print or braille. TVIs will need to download and prepare the hard copy (PDF) print files or fuse (e.g., with your PIAF) the braille graphics. If your braille reader prefers hard copy braille of the text of the units, there are also downloadable .brf files for embossers.

AnimalWatch Vi: Graphics AnimalWatch Vi Graphics logo, a grey swimming turtle on a purple background.

As students began using AnimalWatch Vi Suites, it became apparent that many students with visual impairments lacked solid skills on how to glean information from graphics. AnimalWatch Vi: Graphics was developed to teach graphic literacy. Targeting students working on the 6th - 8th math grade level, AnimalWatch Vi: Graphics was designed to build student accuracy and efficiency in gathering and interpreting information in a graphics (e.g., bar graphs, line graphs, Venn diagrams, maps). The teacher curriculum provides objectives, copies of the texts and graphics (print and simbraille) and suggested follow up activities.


Both AnimalWatch Vi apps were carefully designed for students with low vision. The layout is predictable, has good contrast, and has read aloud buttons. In AnimalWatch Vi Suite, low vision users can use the iOS built-in Zoom to enlarge images or text on the screen. In AnimalWatch Vi: Graphics, a built-in zoom features enables the user to double tap to enlarge the image on the screen.

Both AnimalWatch Vi apps were designed to be accessible with VoiceOver. The layout is predictable, animal photos include alt text descriptions, and VoiceOver reads all buttons, text, etc. However, the math charts and graphs are not intended to be accessible with VoiceOver as VoiceOver may give away information the student needs to find and interpret. In order to move through the material,  braille readers must have a braille copy of the graphics. Most students with low vision will want paper copies of the graphics, rather than using the graphics on the iPad screen. Graphics can be purchased in print, Nemeth Code within UEB contexts or UEB. (Purchased hard copies are only available for AnimalWatch Vi: Graphics.)

Which AnimalWatch Vi Should I Start With?

Wondering which product to use first with your student? The choice should be based on the skills your student needs most. If your student struggles with word problems in math, start with AnimalWatch Vi Suite. That said, if your student has had little instruction in how to locate and interpret information in graphics, then you may want to start with AnimalWatch Vi: Graphics. Keep in mind, that the math content for AnimalWatch Vi: Graphics is at the 6th grade level, so some 5th graders may not yet be ready for the content.

AnimalWatch Vi Suite Resources

APH maintains a website page for AnimalWatch Vi resources.

AnimalWatch Vi: Graphics Resources

AnimalWatch pinterest tag


Posted by Diane BraunerJan 13, 2021

AnimalWatch Vi: Graphics app is now available in the App Store!