This image shows the adapted triple beam balance in use.

Adapting a Triple Beam Balance

Description of adapting a triple beam balance for use by students who are blind or visually impaired.

The triple beam balance is commonly used in both middle school and high school science classes.  This tool can be easily adapted to become more accessible for low vision and blind students in the following manner:

This image shows the Wikki Stix tactual lines up close.
Tactile lines made with Wikki Stix on a triple beam balance



The triple beam balance should be adapted by adding Wikki Stix ( to both the indicator and the fixed zero mark (See picture above.)

1. Cut 2 pieces of Wikki Stix about 5 cm long each.

2. Stick the Wikki Stix to the inidicator and the fixed zero mark.

The student will thus be able to use the triple beam balance with sighted assistance only to read the ones and hundredths.


1. Begin by explaining to the student that when the raised line on the indicator mark and the raised line on the fixed zero mark are even that the balance has been achieved.  The student should practice moving his/her finger from the right so as not to move the indicator but to only feel whether the two pieces of Wikki Stix are level.

2. As with sighted students, explain to the student the location of the 10s, and 100s and the manner in which they operate.  Each will slide to the right a click at a time to add weight. 

3. Tell the student that sighted assistance will be needed to determine the correct number of 1s and to read it to the student. (This is because this part of the triple beam balance slides rather than clicks into place.)

NGSS Standards

(5-PSI-2 and 5-PSI-3)

By Laura Hospitál

Collage of adapting a triple beam balance

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