I love science and technology, so it’s only natural that I use a wide range of educational technology and apps in the classroom. Because I have low vision, not every app I find is a perfect fit for me, but I still have found many apps that support large print, magnification, Zoom, VoiceOver, and other accessibility features (read my app accessibility checklist here). Here are five apps that help students with low vision in the science classroom, encompassing a variety of science disciplines. These apps are great for elementary, middle, and high school students with vision impairments, but not all apps will work for each student. For five more apps that help students with low vision in the classroom, read this post on classroom apps here.
I have used the periodic table in various science classes, especially in high school chemistry. I wrote a list of ways to make the periodic table accessible for students with low vision and blindness with a combination of iPad and Android apps, as well as some no-tech solutions. Read the periodic table post here.
The Smithsonian Channel has a variety of videos on different science topics that are commonly played in science classes. Students can watch the videos in the classroom with their peers, playing the video on their iPad while everyone else watches it on the projector screen. Alternatively, students can use Chromecast to broadcast the video to a larger screen- read more about Chromecast here. I liked the videos didn’t have a lot of flashing lights too- read more about photosensitivity in the classroom here. This app works well with Zoom and VoiceOver and has subtitles on videos, but no descriptive audio as of yet. Download Smithsonian Channel for iPad here and Smithsonian Channel for Android here.
In preparation for the August 2017 solar eclipse, Eclipse Soundscapes was created to provide blind and visually impaired users with a view of the eclipse, no staring at the sun needed. Even though the eclipse has passed, the app still contains a lot of information about solar eclipses and is expected to expand more as field data from the eclipse is collected. Read my post on the Soundscape app here, and my review of watching the solar eclipse with it here.
I watched a lot of BrainPop videos in elementary and middle school, and looked forward to watching the videos in class. The BrainPop app allows users to watch the featured movie of the day, and for $3-$7 a month (depending on which subscription is chosen), they can have access to the full BrainPop library. Schools and BrainPop online account holders can access this for free. This app is great for accessibility, and was featured by Apple as being one of the most VoiceOver friendly apps, making it a great resource for students. Download BrainPop for iPad here and BrainPop for Android here.
I never had to dissect any animals in class, though many of my friends dissected real frogs, worms, and rats for their middle school and high school biology classes. Many students prefer to use virtual dissections, and students with low vision especially benefit from having virtual dissections so they can zoom in and view the components of the dissection with ease. I also appreciated that the app read directions out loud and was forgiving of errors, since I would have great difficulty dissecting a real frog and using the tools. The in-app magnification is sufficient for me, but the app also works great with Zoom. I found VoiceOver confusing, so I can’t recommend it for those who completely rely on VoiceOver. The app is free to download but the experiments are in-app purchases. Download Dissection Lab iPad here.
All of these apps were tested on the 5th generation iPad running iOS 11 and accessibility settings enabled- read more about iPad accessibility here. When appropriate, apps were tested on an Android phone running software version 8.1, also known as Android Oreo, and accessibility settings enabled- read more about those Android Accessibility here. I recommend testing each of these apps out to see which ones work best. If you have any other favorites, comment below with the app name and what device it’s on.