Faculty Publications


Impact of adaptive materials on teachers and their students with visual impairments in secondary science and mathematics classes

Document Type



Accommodations/adaptations, Laboratory work, Secondary school, Students with disabilities, Teacher actions, Teacher beliefs, Teacher development, Visual impairment

Journal/Book/Conference Title

International Journal of Science Education





First Page


Last Page



Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields, important in today's world, are underrepresented by students with disabilities. Students with visual impairments, although cognitively similar to sighted peers, face challenges as STEM subjects are often taught using visuals. They need alternative forms of access such as enlarged or audio-converted text, tactile graphics, and involvement in hands-on science. This project focused on increasing teacher awareness of and providing funds for the purchase of supplemental adaptive resources, supplies, and equipment. We examined attitude and instructional changes across the year of the programme in 15 science and mathematics teachers educating students with visual impairments. Positive changes were noted from pretest to posttest in student and teacher perspectives, and in teacher attitudes towards students with disabilities in STEM classes. Teachers also provided insights into their challenges and successes through a reflective narrative. Several adolescent students resisted accommodations to avoid appearing conspicuous to peers. Teachers implemented three strategies to address this: providing the adaptations to all students in the class; convincing the student of the need for adaptation; and involving the class in understanding and accepting the student's impairment. A variety of teacher-created adaptations for various science and mathematics labs are reported. Another finding was many adaptations provided for the student with visual impairment benefitted the entire class. This study supports the claim that given knowledgeable, supportive teachers, and with appropriate accommodations such as tactile or auditory materials, students with visual impairments can be as successful and engaged as other students in science and mathematics. © 2011 Taylor & Francis.


Department of Curriculum and Instruction

Original Publication Date


DOI of published version