Student touching DNA model

Preparing for a Biology Student

This blog provides the TVI with practical advice as to equipment, models, and tools to prepare for a student who will be in a High School Biology class.

As with a previous blog post on preparing for a student entering chemistry, I hope to provide the TVI with practical steps to follow and items to purchase in order to provide the Biology student with a visual impairment with all the tools necessary to best understand and enjoy Biology.

Items to purchase from APH

These items ideally should be purchased from American Printing House for the Blind (APH) the spring prior to the student entering Biology class in the fall.

All of these items are available using Quota Funds.

Please see the following reviews and ordering information.

  1. Life Science Tactile Graphics  
  2. DNA Model
  3. DNA/RNA Kit
  4. Genetic Code Chart
  5. Download a teacher’s guide of Life Science Tactile Graphics and RNA/DNA kit for the general education teacher for free from APH to accompany the above.   Alternatively, these guidebooks can be ordered from APH.

**Note: The guidebook for the DNA twist does not seem to be available either for purchase or as a free download from APH.  Please leave the guidebook with the general education biology teacher if at all possible.     

The Teacher’s Guide for the Life Science Tactile Graphics can be purchased separately from APH if you prefer.  

Items to purchase from other sources

  1. Cell Zone Kit
  2. Talking Lab Quest and pH and temperature probe (at least)   Discuss with the teacher whether other probes are necessary (possibly oxygen or carbon dioxide sensor or pulse monitor).  This is a fairly expensive investment, but may be available to borrow through a Regional Service Center.  Some high schools already use the LabQuest, in which case the probes wouldn’t have to be purchased but only the talking LabQuest. 
  3. Talking Scientific Calculator (if student doesn’t already have one).  
  4. MolyMod Molecular Model Set  Useful for making models of biomolecules. 
  5. Talking Scale – These are available from a number of vendors, such as Independent Living Aids and Maxi Aids. Kitchen scales may be the most useful for the classroom, although talking bathroom scales are available too.
  6. Wikki Stix – Very useful for a quick raised line – Order lots!  
  7. APH Draftsman and/or inTACT Sketchpad – The APH Draftsman is available on quota funds, but the inTACT Sketchpad has several advantages.  
  8. Low temp glue gun and mini-glue sticks — These will also come in very handy for preparing quick models.  Available at any craft store.

Preparation for the TVI prior to the year

  1. Read over the descriptions of the products on this website to familiarize yourself with them by referring to the links above.
  2. The spring prior to the new school year, give the Biology teacher a copy of the Guidebooks for the following 3 resources:  DNA twist, DNA/RNA Kit and Life Science Tactile Graphics.  If you don’t know who the teacher will be until the fall, them give him/her these items as early as possible in the fall.
  3. Refer the Biology teacher to the following posts written for science teachers unfamiliar with teaching students with visual impairment.  Be sure to read them over yourself, as needed.
  4. Read the following posts on microscope use, dissection, and magnification.  Refer the biology teacher to them.  These articles are more specific to Biology.
  5. Peruse the guidebooks for the products from APH, as well as the instructions of other products.  If the student is proficient with the scientific talking calculator, you need not read over the manual for that item.
  6. Watch the following 2 short videos (approximately 5 minutes each) by Greg Williams, a chemist who is blind, in order to become more comfortable with organizing and setting up the lab environment for a student who is visually impaired. If the Biology teacher can make time, watch one of them with him/her.

As the school year begins: 

  1. Meet with the teacher and, using his/her syllabus, discuss when each of the adapted products will be needed.  If possible, leave the materials with the teacher or plan to deliver them at least two weeks prior to instruction on the related content.  At the very least, provide the Biology teacher with the guidebooks for the products listed above. 
  2. Discuss with the teacher which day(s) of the week labs will be conducted.  If at all possible, plan to attend all labs.  If not possible, discuss with the teacher which labs are most important for you to attend. 
  3. If you haven’t had the opportunity to do so yet, offer the Biology teacher the resources listed in the above sections.

Additional Resources: 

Pinterest collage for teaching biology

By Laura Hospitál

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