Accessible Science Labs: A Resource with Experiments for Junior and Senior High Students who are Blind or Visually Impaired
This resource was developed as part of the Students with Vision Loss Initiative Project and was compiled/edited by Maren Hasse, Niels Nicolajsen, Linda Stirrett, Richard Svekla and Cheryl Wecels. The manual is broken down into five parts and is available for anyone to download. The associated equipment is available in Alberta as a part of the Accessible Science Kits which are available through the Province's Vision Resource Centres (see below).
Accessible Science Kits
For students who are blind or visually impaired, accessing the information that is presented in the K-12 science curriculum is an ongoing challenge. The Students with Vision Loss Initiative, in collaboration with the three Vision Resource Centres, is working to make the science courses for students in grades 7-12 a little more accessible through the loan of kits for the life and physical sciences that contain a variety of sensors that can be used by students in lab situations. These kits contain sensors and a lab interface that will work with a PC and JAWS to provide the student with lab information that typically would would be accessed visually.
In March of 2009 the Students with Vision Loss Initiative sponsored a one day workshop put on by Dr. Dennis Fantin, a chemstry professor from California Polytechnic State University who happens to be blind. Dr. Fantin demonstrated the use of a variety of these sensors and spoke more broadly about addressing the needs of students who are blind or visually impaired in the science classroom. To view the article about the workshop, go to the Accessible Science Kits link which is the title of this section.
To access one of these kits, contact your vision teacher or the Vision Resource Centre in your region. Contact information for the Vision Resource Centres is located in the Educators tab of the website.
The following links for adapting science resources will be helpful when planning a science program that will actively involve learners with blindness or a visual impairment.
Science Activities for the Visually Impaired/Science Enrichment for Learners with Physical Handicaps is an accessible science program that was originally designed for students from grades 3-8 who were blind or visually impaired. This program has grown to encompass other disabilities as well, and currently offers adaptive science equipment, teaching manuals and procedural videos for teachers. These items are available for purchase from the SAVI/SELPH website.
Perkins School: Accessible Science
This on-line resource provides a list of links to vendors that supply accessible science materials, as well as a list of further science-related links. This site also provides suggestions for accessible activities in biology, chemistry, physical science, as well as technology and engineering.
National Center for Blind Youth in Science
The NCBYS, sponsored by the NFB Jernigan Institute, aims to provide students, parents, and educators with the resources and information they need to ensure that science is fully accessible to students with visual impairments. The site includes teaching tips and sample lesson plans for teachers, as well as an extensive listing of resources for the various subject areas. The NCBYS site also offers a mentorship program for youth who are interested in pursuing a career in a scientific field. For more information on their mentorship program, visit NFB Link.
Biology Teaching Tips
This page, written by Maylene Bird of the Texas School for the Blind, contains teaching tips that are specific to biology. Suggestions pertain specifically to dissection, the study of cells, using microscopes, using diagrams and models, and measuring.
Adapted Curriculum Enhancement – ACE
A joint effort from several organizations in the United States, including NASA, the ACE program was developed for students from typically underserved populations. The ACE program aims to provide resources and supports for science teachers who are teaching students with visual impairments. Included within this program are modules of activities that have been made accessible to students with visual impairments.
Science for Students with Visual Impairments
This is an article that offers general suggestions for the classroom teacher on how to increase the accessibility of the classroom, as well as concrete examples of how to increase the accessibility of the various science disciplines. The authors also discuss considerations for the assessment of students with visual impairments.