The image is of an atom.

Preparing for a Chemistry Student

An overview of steps to take to prepare for working in a high school class with a chemistry student who is blind or visually impaired

By Laura Hospitál

This blog is designed to benefit itinerant TVIs working with a student in a high school chemistry class. It offers a comprehensive list that includes clear descriptions of the appropriate tools to purchase for the year and an overview of what steps to take to prepare for the year would be of value.  

Products to Purchase

I recommend buying these items in the spring if possible, in preparation for a class the following fall.

From APH (Available on Quota Funds)

  1. AZER’s Interactive Periodic Table Study Set
  2. Guidebook to the AZER set for the Chemistry teacher (free download)

Purchase from Sources Other than APH

  1. Accessible Periodic Table from Independence Science. This is one of the most readable ones for computer users. See also Accessible Periodic Table Options from Paths to Technology.
  2. Talking Labquest with temperature probe and pH probe                   

This is a fairly expensive investment but may be available through a Region Service Center.  Some schools use the LabQuest already, in which case the probes wouldn’t have to be purchased. 

  1. Talking Scientific Calculator (if student doesn’t already have one) – Several are available. Also see app section below for (almost) free app.
  2. MolyMod Molecular Model Set 
  3. 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. 
  4. Wikki Stix – Very useful for a quick raised line – Order lots!   
  5. Glue gun and mini-glue sticks  These will also come in very handy for preparing quick models.  Available at any craft store.
  6. Adapted length measurement tools with braille/ large print 

Accessible Apps

These will be appropriate if your student has access to apps on his/her device.Color id app icon

  1. Several apps have been designed by an incredible student from California, Hari Bhimaraju. They both relate to the Periodic Table.
    1. Free/Low-Cost Periodic Table Teaching Tool for the Visually Impaired
    2. The Elementor Periodic Table App
  2. Color ID App – Useful for experiments in which color discrimination is necessary 
  3. Talking Graphing Calculator App

Preparation for the TVI to do: 

  1. Read over the descriptions of the products on this site to familiarize yourself with them. 
  2. Give the Chemistry teacher a copy of the AZER guidebook during prep week or the spring prior, if possible.  
  3. Refer him/her to the following blog written by Kate Fraser for science teachers unfamiliar with teaching students with visual impairment: Back to School with a Student with Visual Impairments                                                            
  4. Read over the AZER guidebook yourself at the beginning of the year. 
  5. Make adaptations to the Periodic Table using Wikki Stix to make it easier for braille students to use the table.  The following may be helpful in doing so:
  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:

As the school year begins: 

  1. Meet with the teacher and, using his/her syllabus, discuss when each of the adapted products will be 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.  
  2. Introduce the student to the Azer Model and features of the atom prior to the introduction of the atom in class.
  3. Store the protons, neutrons, and electron pieces in a manner that he/she can easily access.  I use ziplock bags to store the subatomic particles in but I put each subatomic particle (protons, neutrons, and electrons) in separate  small cups while the students are building the atoms.

Additional Resources: 

Chemistry collage

Feel free to contact Alan Roth at [email protected] with further questions or post a question on this site.

Many thanks to Alan Roth and Haley Moberg for their input to the blog.

Return to Accessible Science main page.


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