Newsletter: 2019 December


Independence Science Newsletter

December 2019

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 December! The staff at Independence Science whish our readers the happiest of holidays.

  • Thank you to everyone who came to the 10th IsLAND conference. It was great meeting everyone.

Please see the announcements:

  • New Talking LabQuest is here!
  • Independence Science has a new redesigned web page, please check it out.
  • The ACB and NFB are again offering scholarships.
  • For those in grades K-12, read about the Braille Readers are Leaders contest.

IsLAND Conference Roundup

The 10th IsLAND conference was held in Huntsville, AL October 4 and 5. October 4 was an optional day at Space Camp.

SpaceCamp was quite an experience. We arrived at the facility at about 8:30 for registration and light breakfast. There was a briefing meeting where we were divided into two teams Discovery and Enterprise. We all picked roles as either members of the shuttle crew, ground crew or ISS (International Space Station). Each shuttle crew had a commander, pilot, mission specialists and payload specialists.

After receiving our assignments, we all participated in riding two trainers. The Multi Axis Trainer (MAT) is a chair that spins in three axes. No one got sick from the experience.

The next trainer was the One Sixth Gravity chair. This device simulates what walking on the moon would be like. Since the Moon has one sixth of Earth’s gravity, a step causes one to bound across the surface.

We then when to our assigned shuttles, ground crew or ISS assignments. I was the commander of the Discovery. The shuttle simulators are close to what the actual space shuttle is like. The commander, pilot and some of the mission specialists had to climb an eight foot ladder to get to the upper section of the shuttle. The commander and pilot are surrounded by panels of toggle switches. There is a center console that contains more switches and two keypads. Many of the switches are labeled in braille. After getting a bit familiar with the controls, we broke for lunch.

After lunch, we went on a simulated flight. Like in the real shuttle, the participants were provided a booklet outlining the procedures to follow. A good description of the flight is that it is like a play. Each of the team reads his or her part and takes actions accordingly. There were sound affects, but the equipment remained stationary.

After the flight, we toured a museum and were able to look at various displays. Some of NASA’s old equipment was on display. We were able to examine the trainer for the moon buggy used by some of the later Apollo missions. Outside of the museum is a full sized replica of a Saturn V rocket with Space Shuttle on top.

Friday evening, we enjoyed a dinner as part of the opening of the conference. Our keynote speaker was Dave Schleppenbach of Tactile Solutions. Dave showed a thirty-two cell sixteen line braille display he has designed. The unit is about the size of a notebook computer and a little thicker. On Saturday, I was able to feel the display and can report that the response time is quite fast.

Starting Saturday Morning, we had a series of presentations. Each presentation was scheduled to be twenty-five minutes. The conference was great. The 2020 IsLAND conference will be Sept. 11-13 in Princeton, NJ.

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 introductory price of a new Talking LabQuest 2 package will be $2195. 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.

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.

Biography: Ralph R. Teetor

An interesting book to read is about Ralph Teetor. Quoting from the NLS entry:

One man’s vision : the life of automotive pioneer Ralph R. Teetor DBC12167

Author: Meyer, Marjorie Teetor. Reading time: 8 hours, 10 minutes.

Ralph Teetor born 1890 died 1982 was blind from age five. Ralph Teetor is best known as the inventor of cruise control. He was for many years president of the Perfect Circle company, a maker and major supplier of piston rings. Ralph Teetor was also president of the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE).

When Is It Time to Seek Counsel?

If you are dealing with an Individualized Education Plan (IEP), the following article is a must read.

When Is It Time to Seek Counsel?

American Action Fund for Blind Children and Adults

Future Reflections Special Issue: The Individualized Education Plan (IEP) TAKING THE NEXT STEP

An Interview with Sharon Krevor-Weisbaum, Esq. The article can be read at:


     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.

Microbiology and Molecular Biology Tactile Models

The following is from Richard Meyer Ph.D.

I am a professor emeritus at the University of Texas at Austin (Department of Molecular Biosciences) engaged in a long-term project to design tactile,

3-D printable models and tiles for blind and visually impaired university students interested in microbiology and molecular biology. The models are organized into modules, each focusing on an important topic and including printed and audio descriptions for orientation and background. 

The model files and related materials are located at the site below and are

downloadable without charge.

This project came out of working with a blind microbiology student (an aspiring epidemiologist) and realizing that the resources available to her and others were scattered and limited in all the STEM disciplines.

Richard Meyer

Email: [email protected]

American Council of the Blind 2020 Scholarships

The American Council of the Blind (ACB) has a scholarship program. Applications for the 2020-2021 school year can be submitted online from Friday, November 1, 2019 to Friday, February 14, 2020 11:59pm (CST).

For more information, see the site:

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:

Braille Readers Are Leaders Contest

The contest runs from December 1, 2019 to January 18, 2020. Several categories for braille readers may be entered. for more information, see the site:

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].