Teaching STEM subjects to blind and partially sighted learners

Title: Teaching STEM subjects to blind and partially sighted learners

Author: Heather Cryer, Publisher: RNIB Centre for Accessible Information (CAI), Year of publication: 2013

Background

Technical subjects such as Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) have often been cited as difficult for blind/partially sighted students. This projects aims to highlight some of the specific challenges and to signpost to available resources to improve the accessibility of STEM subjects.  

Key findings       

  • Accessing technical notation – such as equations and formulae – in accessible formats can be difficult, both in terms of conversion and the linear nature of braille and audio       
  • Many STEM subjects rely heavily on visual resources such as graphs, diagrams and charts    
  • The comprehension of “visual concepts” which may be difficult to explain in words can pose another challenge    
  • Some aspects of engaging in activities such as experiments can be difficult for blind and partially sighted students    
  • STEM subjects are commonly taught through “chalk and talk” methods, relying on seeing what is being worked through on the board    
  • Research highlights the need for teacher training to equip teachers to overcome these issues