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Science Adaptations for Students with Visual Impairments

Instructor: Sarah Mills

Sarah is an educational freelance writer and has taught English and ESL in grades k-12 and college. She has a master's degree in both Literacy and TESOL.

In this lesson, teachers will learn some strategies for accommodating students with visual impairments in science class. This lesson will discuss the importance of using strategies and instructional tools as adaptations to provide equitable access to the curriculum.

Adapting for Science

Science class is often a struggle for students with visual impairments. Much of the content is supplemented with visual reinforcements: models, charts, graphs, equations, posters, diagrams, and experiments. Think about the life-sized skeleton model used to teach anatomy, or the color-coded poster of the periodic table of elements. It's important for science teachers to adapt lesson materials in order to provide equitable access to the curriculum for students with visual impairments. Let's discuss some strategies for adapting science instruction.

General Instructional Tools and Strategies

There are some general strategies that can be used in all classes to accommodate students with visual impairments, including:

  • Offering students preferential seating, or allowing them to sit in an area that best meets their vision needs, such as in a well-lit area away from windows and at the front of the room
  • Giving students the option of moving around the room during instruction in order to get a better look at instructional materials
  • Allowing the use of optical devices, such as an illuminated magnifier or a monocular, which is a hand-held device that allows students to see things that are fifteen feet or more away
  • Giving students access to a power outlet near their seat for their electronic devices, such as a computer with a braille keyboard
  • Providing students with tools that can help them during instruction, such as a portable notetaker (PDA), braille and large-print rulers, or a talking calculator
  • Using a braille label maker to create labels for classroom materials
  • Offering large-print, audio, or braille texts
  • Allowing students to record lectures

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