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Science Instruction for Students with Visual Impairments

Learn about the challenges facing students with visual impairments in accessing science instruction.

This entry is part 18 of 19 in the series Braille Brain
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“Implicitly or otherwise, the educational system has diminished expectations of the blind. If science is hard for me, a sighted adult might reason, it must be doubly hard for a blind person.”

— Geerat J. Vermeij, renowned blind marine biologist

The Challenge for Students

Students with visual impairments do not observe, collect or data in the same manner as their sighted peers.  Consequently, these students are provided limited encouragement, opportunities or access to Science in schools.  It is essential that students with visual impairments are presented with early exposure to scientific thinking and materials that will spark their interest in future interest in scientific exploration.  

Importance of Models and Graphics in Science

For students with visual impairments, details and object relationships in Science are mental, because often they are only presented with descriptions.  Their awareness or understanding of concepts are more challenging to grasp compared with students without visual impairments. Lack of detailed tactile models and graphics that adequately represent real objects presented in their curriculum is a barrier to educational access for students with visual impairments. In order for students to fully access Scientific principles, models and graphics must consider design principles that consider orientation, texture, height, spacing and movement.  Models and graphics are a gateway for students with visual impairments to pursue careers in Science.  

Organizations such as American Printing House For the Blind (APH) and National Braille Press (NBP) have committed to developing commercial products which will allow students with visual impairments to participate fully in their Science classes.  Additionally, APH has developed products which are intentionally aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), which require students to participate in activities that promote “inquiry and real science practices such as hypothesis testing, model development, experimentation, and interpreting data.” (


National Braille Press Featured Products:

APH Featured Products (Aligned with NGSS)

Science Resources:

Mission INSPIRE STEM Bowl logo that includes a picture of a rocket blasting off and an owl wearing glasses.
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Blasting Off with Mission INSPIRE: An Inquiry-Based Hands-On Rocket Activity for 5th-10th Grade Students

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Foundational Skills for STEM