March 2020 Newsletter


Independence Science Newsletter

March 2020

Published and distributed by Independence Science



Phone: (866) 862-9665

     Note for Robert Jaquiss, press #4.

Email: [email protected]

Robert Jaquiss, Editor

From The Editor

     Happy March! Spring will soon be here. The staff at Independence Science hope our readers are off to a great year.

Please see the announcements:

  • ISLAND 2020 conference
  • New Talking LabQuest is here!
  • Buy four Talking LabQuests and get the fifth one free.
  • Independence Science has a new redesigned web page, please check it out.
  • Information about the Desmos calculator.
  • Free audio book on using Zoom and JAWS scripts.
  • Disney Plus.
  • Information about Curiosity Stream.
  • The passing of Dr. Jim Thatcher.
  • There is still time to apply for an NFB scholarship.

ISLAND – Inclusion in Science Learning a New Direction

The Inclusion in Science Learning a New Direction (ISLAND) conference on disability in STEM provides a forum to address how persons with disabilities can be more fully integrated into the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) professions.

This forum provides a space for professionals,

students, researchers, access technology developers, parents, and service providers to meet and network with one another for this purpose.

Persons with disabilities are often prohibited from full participation in the STEM subject areas due to misconceptions leading to lack of opportunities in STEM courses. Further, employers and advanced degree programs may be skeptical about the capabilities of a person with a disability and their ability to compete on equal terms with their non-disabled counterparts. Persons with disabilities have to problem solve to overcome their physical and/or cognitive limitations for their entire lives. Therefore, the more methodological and technological innovations that can be designed and disseminated in a forum such

as the ISLAND conference serves to promote a community of practice for STEM educators to learn how a more inclusive and equitable STEM learning experience may be made possible.

Please come to the 2020 ISLAND conference to be held at Princeton University over the weekend of Friday, September 11, 2020 through Sunday, September 13.

More specific conference information will be forthcoming. We are looking forward to seeing you at the 11th annual ISLAND conference. For questions, please send an e-mail to the conference organizers at [email protected].

A block of rooms has been reserved at the Courtyard by Marriott located at 3815 US Route 1 @ Mapleton Rd Princeton, New Jersey 08540.

To ensure you receive the conference rate, please reference the 2020 ISLAND conference when booking your reservation.

The ISLAND conference attendees seek to shift the paradigm of science access for all learners.

We are now accepting abstracts for presentations for the 2020 Island Conference. Abstracts must be received by May 15, 2020. Presenters will be notified by or before June 1, 2020.

For more information about the ISLAND conference, submitting abstracts, hotel reservations and registration; Please go to the following:

New Sci-Voice Talking LabQuest v2 is here!

Independence Science is pleased to announce that we now have a new Talking LabQuest. The new Talking LabQuest v2 replaces our previous version.

  • The introductory pricing for upgrading from an older LabQuest 2: $295 per unit. Customers will need to ship their units back to us along with payment. We will then return the unit back to them free of charge. We will also check their unit for any hardware issues that may have come up.
  • The price of a new Talking LabQuest 2 package is $2250. For now the sensors offered are the same, this could change in the future.

The new TLQ2 v2 features:

  • Audio graph sonification.
  • Real-time tone meter.
  • More extended useful resources folder.
  • Easy to use high contrast feature to support low vision users.
  • Support for Bluetooth capable Vernier sensors.
  • New O’haus balances with USB connector kit.
  • Multi-language capability for an additional fee in the following languages: (Spanish, French, German, Italian, and Portuguese)

For more information, please check the Independence Science website.

Consulting Services

Independence Science offers consulting services. We will provide training

on an individual or group basis for faculty teaching STEM classes to students who are blind or visually impaired. For more information, please contact Independence Science.


BUY four GET one free, one SciVoice TALKING LABQUEST 2.0.

Give your students the gift of science accessibility technology with the SciVoice Talking LabQuest 2.0! An accessible tool for your science needs. Contact

Us: Phone: (866) 862-9665

Email: [email protected] 

Desmos Calculator

The Desmos calculator is a web based calculator that has a number of capabilities that are accessible to blind users. It works similarly on all platforms. There is a link to the help center where a user can find out about signing up for an account and read documentation.

To try the Desmos calculator, visit the site:

Working With Zoom – Free Audio Book

Jonathan Mosen has produced a free audio book for Zoom users.

Free audiobook, “Meet Me Accessibly – A Guide to Zoom Cloud Meetings from a Blindness Perspective” –

Mosen Consulting Tutorials.

The link to the page is:

Hartgen Consultancy offers both free and enhanced packages of JAWS scripts for Zoom. See the link:

Curiosity Stream service

The Curiosity Stream service offers a wide variety of educational videos. For more information, see the site:

Disney Plus Service

Disney Plus became available November 12. The service is available for a variety of devices including iPhone, PCs, and Amazon Fire TV. Of interest to STEM students may be a selection of programs produced by National Geographic. Some programs do have the option for audio description. Each platform has its own way to turn on this service.

Dr. Jim Thatcher passes

It was with much sadness that we learned of the passing of Dr. Jim Thatcher in December 2019. Dr. Thatcher was a pioneer in the field of computer accessibility. In later years, Dr. Thatcher contributed his expertise to making the web accessible. For more information, see the following links:

Jim Thatcher’s site is maintained by


     The following announcements are STEM and education related. Independence Science reprints this information as we receive it. We make no warranty as to the accuracy of these items although we will endeavor to only print legitimate items. We reserve the right to edit for space and clarity. We will also repeat some announcements such as scholarships etc. until the opportunities expire. Please note that scholarship programs have a number of requirements. Do not delay if you intend to apply.

National Federation of the Blind Scholarship Program

The application period for the 2020 NFB Scholarship program will be open from November 1, 2019 through March 31, 2020. Applicants with technical interests can also apply for the NFB/HumanWare STEM Internship.

The list of additional resources should also be looked at. There is a document listing scholarships for a wide variety of disabilities.

For more information, see the link:

NFBEQ program

NFB EQ (the National Federation of the Blind Engineering Quotient program) is a week-long summer engineering program for blind and low-vision teens from around the United States.

NFB EQ is jam-packed with fun and learning. Participants spend each day engaged in activities designed to strengthen their knowledge of engineering as well as their problem solving abilities. In the evenings, participants explore the local community and participate in various recreational activities.

The 2020 Dates and Location are:

June 21 through June 27, 2020

Science Museum of Minnesota

120 W Kellogg Boulevard

St. Paul, MN 55102

Who Should Apply

Blind and low-vision teens currently enrolled in grades 9-12 in the United States who are ready to learn new things, meet new people, and have an adventure this summer are encouraged to apply. Applications are due March 29.

For more Information see the following links:

NFBEQ FAQ sheet:

Technical Tips

     The following technical tips are offered in hopes they may be of use. Due to the many possible variations in PCs and equipment, Independence Science cannot be responsible for any undesirable outcomes.

  1. For iPhone users, some iPhones don’t work when they get cold, so keep your phone warm.
  2. For many of us, a classic Perkins brailler is still an essential tool. If you need to get yours repaired, here is a link to a list of brailler repair services:
  3. Warning! Independence Science strongly advises all iS current and future customers to not upgrade the operating system on their Sci-Voice Talking LabQuest 2 device without being notified by Independence Science. There are other versions of operating systems that are not compatible with the text-to-speech features of Sci-Voice Talking LabQuest. Therefore, we strongly advise all ISci customers to not upgrade the OS on your device without prior notification. Failure to do so will likely disable the text-to-speech on your device.

     Please send comments and suggestions to me at: [email protected].