Dedicated to Improving the Lives of Blind and Visually Impaired People

Research Project Aims to Make Chemistry Labs and Concepts Accessible

The inaccessibility of chemistry labs to people with disabilities, a dearth of materials that are non-visual, and technologies that are not currently optimized for those who are blind or have low vision have, together, created barriers “to the study and discipline of chemistry.” To remedy the situation, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded a $1.3 million grant to a chemist from Baylor University. The intent is to open chemistry courses and labs to students who are visually impaired. Bryan Shaw, Ph.D., a Baylor professor of chemistry and biochemistry, will work on a “first-of-its-kind early intervention project” that eliminates barriers to work in laboratories and provides tactile education materials and equipment. Both high and low-tech approaches will be employed, blending “robotics and technology with educational materials and ’lab hacks’ that enable students with blindness (and low vision) to take part in the same roles and routines as their sighted counterparts.” This five-year grant involves a partnership with the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired and is supported through the NIH’s Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) program, which encourages STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) projects for children in grades kindergarten through high school. The project initially will focus on high school students and is expected to begin this fall. Eventually the plan is to include resources for children just beginning to study science. To read more details about the study and the resources it will utilize, read the Baylor University Media and Public Relations webpage announcement: Baylor Chemist Leads $1.3 Million Research Project to Make Chemistry Labs and Concepts Accessible to Blind and Low Vision Students.