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 there are many apps that support large print, magnification, Zoom, VoiceOver, and other accessibility features. 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.
- App Accessibility Checklist for Low Vision
- 5 Apps That Help Students With Low Vision In The Classroom
Periodic table apps
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.
Smithsonian Channel videos
The Smithsonian Channel has a variety of videos on different science topics. 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 I liked the videos didn’t have a lot of flashing lights too. This app works well with Zoom and VoiceOver and has subtitles on videos, but no descriptive audio as of yet.
- Smithsonian Channel app for iPad
- Smithsonian Channel app for Android
- Ways I Use My Google Chromecast For Virtual Learning
- How To Check Videos For Flashing Light Sensitivities
Eclipse Soundscapes was created in preparation for the August 2017 solar eclipse. The purpose of the app is to provide blind and visually impaired users with a view of the eclipse- no need to stare at the sun. 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.
BrainPop Featured Movie
I watched a lot of BrainPop videos in elementary and middle school. I looked forward to watching the videos in class and seeing the adventures of the different characters. The BrainPop app allows users to watch the movie of the day, and for $3-$7 a month (depending on the subscription), 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 Apple calls it one of the most VoiceOver friendly apps, making it a great resource for students.
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.
All of these apps were tested on the 5th generation iPad running iOS 11 with accessibility settings enabled. When appropriate, apps were tested on an Android phone running software version 8.1 with accessibility settings enabled. I recommend testing each of these apps out to see which ones work best for your needs. If you have any other favorites, comment below with the app name and what device it’s on.