RDE-FRI: Independent Laboratory Access for Blind and Low Vision High Shool Students in the Mainstream Science Classroom

  • Mallouk, Thomas E. (PI)
  • Carlsen, William (CoPI)
  • Wohlers, H. David (CoPI)

Project: Research project

Project Details


The project RDE-FRI: Independent Laboratory Access for Blind and Low Vision High School Students in the Mainstream Science Classroom, is a 36-month, $300,000 dollar award funded by the Research in Disabilities Education (RDE) program's Focused Research Initiatives (FRI) track. The primary goal of this project is to incorporate low-cost tools and instructional techniques for blind and low vision (BLV) students, previously created by the RDE-funded Independent Laboratory Access for the Blind (ILAB) team (HRD-0435656), into mainstream high school science classrooms so that BLV students can independently conduct science laboratory experiments. The project team is field testing existing devices, newly created tools and tailored science curricula with approximately ten (10) BLV high school students and their teachers. The research team is lead by a well-experienced NSF-funded chemist and includes a pair of faculty and student chemists who are blind, an NSF-funded expert in chemistry education, and a highly skilled evaluator. This project team, which has worked together on the previous ILAB project, is testing the hypothesis that the use of these already-developed tools in mainstream physical science labs will increase BLV high school students' self-efficacy, confidence and interest in science. Since most students in the project are in their junior and senior years of high school the project team is able to track student transitions into college STEM fields. The team is leveraging resources with other NSF-funded projects and industry partners, including two (2) RDE-funded projects (HRD-0533182.; HRD-0533185), one (1) NSF National Science and Engineering Center (DMR-0425880), Vernier Software and Technology, and GH, LLC. The project addresses three (3) of the RDE-FRI track goals: To build tools for students with disabilities that can be quickly developed and effectively deployed in the educational environment; to add value to the education of persons with disabilities in STEM by implementing the use of technologies in educational environments; and to investigate effective instructional methods and practices for people with disabilities in STEM. The project includes a formative and summative project evaluation plan as well as a dissemination plan that includes presentations at national professional meetings of scientists, chemists and chemical educators; website materials, as well as planned articles in peer-reviewed professional journals. The dissemination plan also includes leveraging resources with the National Science Digital Library (NSDL) Chemistry Pathways project, the National Federation of the Blind, and the RDE-funded MIDWEST Regional Alliance.

Effective start/end date11/1/0710/31/10


  • National Science Foundation: $300,000.00


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