Accessible Science Equipment

Promoting the engagement of students with disabilities

Sometimes all it takes for a student with a disability to participate in a science activity is planning ahead when selecting products for a science lab. Below are examples of products the DO-IT Center has purchased to make science activities accessible to all students. Inclusion on the list does not imply endorsement by DO-IT.

Accessible Measuring Devices

Measuring devices with large print and high contrast markings are accessible to students with low vision. In addition, it might be easier for a student who has limited hand or finger control to use a syringe rather than standard measuring spoons to measure liquids. The following everyday items are available at retailers nationwide.

  • Foldable ruler with large, high contrast markings
  • Tape measure with large, high contrast markings
  • Cloth tape measure
  • Measuring cup with large, high contrast markings
  • Measuring spoons with large, high contrast markings
  • Cooking syringe (remove needles)

Equipment Labeled with Tactile Braille

A hand-held Braille labeler (e.g., from Maxi-Aids) can be used to add Braille labels to equipment. In addition, Brailled rulers and protractors can be purchased from a variety of companies, including the following retailers.

Talking Equipment

Equipment with voice output can benefit students with visual impairments, as well as those with some types of learning disabilities. When these items also have large print, high contrast displays, they can be used by students who have a variety of disabilities. Examples of products and retailers follow.

  • Tape measure that states the length when a button is pressed (Maxi-Aids)
  • Scale that announces the weight of item placed on a platform or in a bowl (Independent Living Aids)
  • Digital thermometer that provides a voice reading when the tip of the probe is applied to the substance to be measured (Maxi-Aides)
  • Scientific calculator that features a large display, high contrast keys, voice output, and a headphone option (Sci-Plus 300 Large Display Talking Calculator, EnableMart)
  • Talking dictionary that pronounces words and definitions, with options that include phonetic spelling correction and personal dictionary (Franklin Electronic Publishers, www.franklin.com/)
  • Reading pen that can be used to scan, define, and pronounce words from printed material (EnableMart)
  • Liquid level indicator to avoid over-filling a container; when the liquid reaches the tip of its two prongs, the unit makes a loud persistent sound and/or vibrates (Independent Living Aids)
  • Talking color identifier which recognizes all the common colors and uses qualifiers, such as light, dark, pale, and vivid (Color Teller, EnableMart) 

Stirring and Filling Devices

Some products benefit students who otherwise have difficulty filling containers and/or stirring.

  • Magnetic mini-stirrer to use with students who have difficulty stirring a mixture in the traditional manner. Simply place the magnetic stir bar into the mixture, set the container on the platform, and use the knob to adjust the speed; the motor stops when the container is removed from the platform (Magnetic Mini-Stirrer, eNasco, www.enasco.com/).
  • Pipette-filling device with a textured grip and hand-neutral design for right- and left-handed users for students who would have trouble using a traditional pipette (Rota-Filler 3000, Heathrow Scientific, www.heathrowscientific.com/).

Non-slip Mats

Non-slip mats can be cut to fit a surface to help prevent items from tipping over or rolling away (Dycem non-slip mat, Dynamic-Living, www.dynamic-living.com/).

Tactile Image Creation

Puffy paints and waxed string can be used to add dimension and tactility to flat lines or drawings for students with visual impairments and are often available in craft stores.

Magnifying Devices

Magnifying devices are commonly available in optical shops and bookstores.

Usable Cylinders and Beakers

Plastic cylinders and beakers and items with handles and lids are often available through vendors who sell science lab products.

About DO-IT

DO-IT (Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking, and Technology) serves to increase the successful participation of individuals with disabilities in challenging academic programs such as those in science, engineering, mathematics, and technology. Primary funding for DO-IT is provided by the National Science Foundation, the State of Washington, and the U.S. Department of Education. DO-IT is a collaboration of UW Information Technology and the Colleges of Engineering and Education at the University of Washington.

Grants and gifts fund DO-IT publications, videos, and programs to support the academic and career success of people with disabilities. Contribute today by sending a check to DO-IT, Box 354842, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195-4842.

Your gift is tax deductible as specified in IRS regulations. Pursuant to RCW 19.09, the University of Washington is registered as a charitable organization with the Secretary of State, state of Washington. For more information call the Office of the Secretary of State, 1-800-322-4483.

To order free publications or newsletters use the DO-IT Publications Order Form; to order videos and training materials use the Videos, Books and Comprehensive Training Materials Order Form.

For further information, to be placed on the DO-IT mailing list, request materials in an alternate format, or to make comments or suggestions about DO-IT publications or web pages contact:

DO-IT
University of Washington
Box 354842
Seattle, WA 98195-4842
doit@uw.edu
www.uw.edu/doit/
206-685-DOIT (3648) (voice/TTY)
888-972-DOIT (3648) (voice/TTY)
206-221-4171 (fax)
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Founder and Director: Sheryl Burgstahler, Ph.D.

DO-IT Funding and Partners

Acknowledgment

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant # HRD- 0833504. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

Copyright © 2012, 2010, University of Washington. Permission is granted to copy these materials for educational, noncommercial purposes provided the source is acknowledged.