Food web showing different animals and plants in the food chain.

Preparing for a Middle School Life Science Student

This blog provides practical steps to prepare for a student with Visual Impairment entering a middle school life science class.

As with the blog post related to adapting instruction in a middle school science class focusing on physical science and earth/space science, this post will focus on middle school life science. This course is offered in 7th grade in most of Texas, but may differ as to the grade level in other states.

Products to Purchase

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

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. Download a teacher’s guide of Life Science Tactile Graphics and for the general education teacher for free from APH to accompany the above.  This guidebook 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.     

Items to purchase from other sources

4.  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.

5.   Wikki Stix – Very useful for a quick raised line – Order lots!  

6.   Low temp glue gun and glue sticks  — These can be purchased at craft stores or Wal-Mart and come in very handy for preparing quick models.  

7.  APH Draftsman and/or inTACT Sketchpad – The APH Draftsman is available on quota funds, but the inTACT Sketchpad has several advantages.  

***** NOTE: For some more advanced middle school life science classes, genetic crosses and DNA transcription and translation will be covered.  If this content is in the syllabus, please see the Biology blog for related resources.  

If dissection or use of the microscope is to be included in the middle school curriculum, please also see the following links

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. If you know who the science teacher will be in the spring prior to the year, give him/her the guidebook for the   DNA twist, 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 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 over 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.
  5. 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 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 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 teacher the resources listed in the above sections.

Additional Resources: 

Pinterest collage for middle school life science student

By Laura Hospitál

Return to Accessible Science main page.

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