Accommodations > Laboratory

Participating in laboratory activities is an important component of science education, however, it may pose barriers to a student with a disability. A student with a motor impairment may have trouble manipulating the equipment. A student with a sensory impairment may have trouble making observations. In addition, many educators are concerned about the safety of students with disabilities in laboratory settings.

There are many options for these students. Experiment simulations, such as virtual frog dissections, may provide an easier way for a student to explore the science, but with fewer physical demands. Systems that use computer-interfaced sensors will automatically record measurements for students who have trouble writing by hand, and may provide large print or spoken readings from the sensors. Different approaches to experiments (e.g., measuring liquid by weight rather than volume), strategies (e.g., adding a drop of food coloring to liquids to make them easier to see), or assistive technologies (e.g., an audible liquid level detector) can also help a student perform common laboratory tasks.

General tips on making laboratory activities accessible:

    2001 Teaching Chemistry to Students with Disabilities (PDF Link)
    Publication by the American Chemical Society, which includes information about classroom and laboratory accommodations, including safety issues and physical layout of a lab.

Specific strategies and product ideas for making laboratory tasks accessible:

    Motor Impairments - Upper Extremity Limitations
    Vision Impairments - Low Vision or Blindness