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Visual Impairment & STEM

Lead Institution: University of Bath
Collaborating with: University of Southampton, Plymouth University, Royal Agricultural College, Loughborough University, London School of Economics

National Resources on VI > Links

The weblinks below highlight a range on online resources aimed at encouraging STEM practitioners to consider the accessibility and inclusivity (or otherwise) of their disciplines. 

Making Your Teaching Inclusive

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The Making Your Teaching Inclusive website from the Open University (despite having been written in 2006) has some useful guidance about working in practical STEM environments and the barriers that can occur.

There are notes about working in laboratories, field trips and a discussion around health and safety. Accessibility of learning materials and concerns about assessments are briefly mentioned with links to other sites with more in-depth articles on the subject.


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The Access2Science website is an American site set up in June 2011. It aims to provide 'articles and links on accessibility of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM. Its purpose is to provide practical information to people with print disabilities and to their friends, parents and teachers."

One of the useful links is the Independent Laboratory Access for the Blind in Penn State University.

Introduction to Accessible Physics Concepts

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The modules in this collection of Physics Concepts come from a professor of Computer Information Technology at Austin Community College in Texas, USA. He presents physics concepts in a format that blind students can read using accessibility tools.

Teaching a Physics Laboratory to Blind Students

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This 2004 project at the University of Nottingham captured the first time the School of Physics and Astronomy had taught visually impaired students. It highlighted potential problems (health and safety issues, class management, access to information, equality of learning experience and assessment) and solutions to these problems.


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AccessSTEM is a US-based organisation whose purpose is to increase the participation of people with disabilities in STEM careers. AccessSTEM builds on established collaborations and brings together practices that have proven successful individually, to create a unique, comprehensive set of interventions. On the website, you will find a list of blindness resources.

Science Access Project - Oregan State University

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Dating back to 2005, this project aimed to develop methods for making science, maths and engineering information accessible to people with print disabilities.

Teaching Maths to Visually Impaired Students

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This website captures the work of Susan Osterhaus, a secondary maths teacher at The Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired. On the website you'll find:

  • Teaching strategies
  • Maths resources
  • Adaptive tool and technologies for accessible maths
  • Tactile Maths graphics and more

MSOR's Supporting Students with Disabilities Network

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This network has a range of articles and resources of relevance to supporting Maths students who have a visual impairment.


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The MathSpeak mechanism creates the necessary HTML/XML tags for visually-impaired and blind users to use their current screen-reading tools (e.g. JAWS and Window-Eyes for Windows) to read HTML and MathML/XML pages that contain math expressions, to read them in a spoken language

New College Worcester - Free Teaching Resources

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New College Worcester is a national residential school and college for young people aged 11 to 19 who are blind or partially sighted. Through its website, you can access free tactile graph grids and braille mathematics code for GCSE.

RNIB - Curriculum Cupboard

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Curriculum Clipboard is written by and for education professionals to bring specialist content on the curriculum-related needs of pupils who are blind or partially sighted. Curriculum Clipboard shines the spotlight on many subjects to help find creative ways of teaching and supporting the national curriculum to children with sight problems. There is a section for teaching and learning professionals who support blind and visually impaired students in mainstream education.

Essential Science Equipment - RNIB

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A list of the equipment that many teachers recommend for use in the science classroom. Whilst written for the schools sector, the list provides a good starting point for HE labs.

Working Safely with Science Experiments - RNIB

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A particular concern for the science staff will of course be the safety of any VI student during  practical lab sessions.

The temptation may be to keep the student safe by limiting the amount of practical work he or she does independently. However, gaining hands on practical experience in science is probably even more important for blind and partially sighted students than for their fully sighted peers. Not only does science provide a curriculum area in which a pupil can find out directly about the world and test his or her own hypotheses, but it also provides a time when pupils with sight problems can use practical skills independently.

A Teacher's Experience: Modified Chemistry Experiment - RNIB

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An illustration of the modification of a chemistry experiment to make it much more accessible for a student who is partially sighted. The experiment is school-based but gives an idea of the kinds of things that need to be thought about when providing practical lab experiences to VI students.

Seeing the Possibilities: An Analysis of STEM Resources Available for People with Vision Loss

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American Foundation for the Blind have an article on AccessWorld that discusses the various issues that can arise when coping with a degree in Science and provides strategies for those with visual impairments.

BlindHOW - accessibility technologies

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Information on technology developed to increase accessibility for blind and VI individuals

Staff involved

EA Draffan
Project lead, University of Southampton

Judith Waterfield
Project lead, Plymouth University

Iryna Withington
University of Bath

John Conway
Royal Agricultural College

Sharron Sturgess
Loughborough University

Simon Hayhoe
London School of Economics