August 2020: A Positive Experience

Amelia Palmer, Contributor
Independence Science Engineering Intern 
apalmer@independencescience.com

My testimony is the position of one blind student. I recognize that what has worked for me may not work for all BLV students. However, I am sharing my positive experiences as a way to tell BLV students that they can also have positive experiences if they work hard and communicate with peers and teachers.

 As a blind electrical engineering major, I have had my fair share of laboratory experiences. While my story is still in the making, I wanted to share some of the factors that enabled me to have positive experiences in the lab.

As a student I have a right to laboratory experiences. The lab is where I can apply the knowledge that I learn in lecture. I believe that there is no substitute for the hands-on experience that a laboratory provides.

I find success in reading my lab manual in advance and attempting to memorize and understand the procedure. After this, I determine what tasks will be difficult or inaccessible with my current tools, and I brainstorm alternative ways of completing the identified tasks as independently as possible. I then coordinate with laboratory staff before the lab to make sure techniques can be accommodated during the lab. The more prepared we all are, the smoother the lab will likely run.

Good orientation and mobility (O & M) skills are crucial in the lab. Before I use a new lab space, I coordinate a tour with lab staff and learn the physical layout of the room as well as how supplies and equipment are organized. If things are inaccessible, now is when I address them.

Knowing where things are is vital to my independence in the lab. I like to label resistors, capacitors, and wires.

I make sure the electronics and instruments I need to use in the lab are accessible. Independence Science sells the Talking LabQuest and JAWS Logger Pro Scripts which are accessible and frequently used in my lab. If there are other obstacles I face, Independence Science is willing to increase accessibility through their consultation services.

As a blind individual, I find it helpful to touch things. Some of the sensors and equipment I work with do not like the oils on my fingers. I find a pair of properly fitting rubber gloves to be very helpful in solving problems.

I feel most empowered when I am the most participatory in the lab. This means setting an experiment up, collecting and analyzing data, and collaborating with my peers.

July 2020: 60 years of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

Rober Jaquiss, Contributor
Editor of Independence Science Newsletter
rjaquiss@independencescience.com

The ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) was signed into law on July 26th, 1990 by President George H. W. Bush Sr. We celebrate its passage to this day as it changed and continues to change many lives including our own. Remember that making things accessible is something everyone should play a part in. It’s not just the right thing to do, it’s also the law!

Our team of scientists who are blind and low vision are passionate about making STEM inclusive of students who are BLV. Not only do they have many years of personal lived experience with the journey of being scientists who are blind, they also have expertise in education. Need help making STEM curriculum work accessible for students with disabilities or want a talk on the importance of inclusion of people with disabilities in your school or work environment? Make sure to contact us here at Independence Science and we’d be happy to work something out!

June 2020: Independence Science Unveils the New Accessible Periodic Table, sponsored by the American Chemical Society

Rober Jaquiss, Contributor
Editor of Independence Science Newsletter
rjaquiss@independencescience.com

Independence Science is pleased to announce the release of our accessible periodic table. This effort was sponsored by the American Chemical Society (ACS). The ACS is the largest membership organization of scientists in the world. It is a United States based non-profit dedicated to supporting the field of chemistry.

This periodic table is used as the official standard for the worldwide ACS National Chemistry Olympiad. The National Chemistry Olympiad competition is a multi-tiered chemistry competition from which the four best competitors go on to represent the United States in the annual International Chemistry Olympiad.

We hope you can make use of this resource in your education and profession.

Independence Science is proud to promote inclusion in the National Chemistry Olympiad by making a more inclusive periodic table for all participants. Find it here:

https://independencescience.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/ptable-final-V3.html

Find more information about the ACS here: https://www.acs.org/content/acs/en/membership.html?sc=200522_acq_ad_google_covid_member_od&gclid=Cj0KCQjw-af6BRC5ARIsAALPIlX-5u2zRsrLlUd2zdR6g8epyovtO6KTx3xW6HJroythnJpI0OSazPUaAu71EALw_wcB

Find more information about the National Chemistry Olympiad here: https://www.acs.org/content/acs/en/education/students/highschool/olympiad.html

May 2020: ISLAND (Inclusion in Science Learning a New Direction) 2020 Conference now going Virtual!

Rober Jaquiss, Contributor
Editor of Independence Science Newsletter
rjaquiss@independencescience.com

For 10 years, ISLAND has welcomed presenters and attendees in person and forged a community around the mission of making STEM accessible to persons with disabilities. Due to the CoVID-19 pandemic, we have decided to organise the first ever virtual ISLAND conference. 

ISLAND 2020 is now virtual and free. We invite you to attend the virtual 2020 ISLAND conference Saturday September 12. Registration is free but mandatory. 

As a result of the upheaval of CoVID, we have also extended abstract acceptances to July 1, 2020. Presenters will be notified by or before July 15, 2020. 

For more information about the ISLAND conference, to submit an abstract, or to register for the conference, please visit islandconference.org  

For questions, please send an e-mail to the conference organizers at island@princeton.edu.

We are looking forward to seeing you at the 11th annual ISLAND conference.

About ISLAND:

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.

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

March 2020: ISLAND (Inclusion in Science Learning a New Direction) Conference on Disability and STEM now accepting abstracts

Rober Jaquiss, Contributor
Editor of Independence Science Newsletter
rjaquiss@independencescience.com

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 island@princeton.edu.

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 visit islandconference.org or click on the following: ISLAND 2020

October 2019: 10th annual [2019] IsLAND Conference Roundup

Rober Jaquiss, Contributor
Editor of Independence Science Newsletter
rjaquiss@independencescience.com

First published in Independence Science Newsletter December 2019 

The 10th IsLAND conference was held in Huntsville, AL October 4 and 5 at the Huntsville Marriott at the Space & Rocket Center. October 4 was our pre-conference day at NASA Space Camp!

SpaceCamp was quite an experience. We arrived at the facility at about 8:30 for registration and a delicious 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 went 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 effects 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 25-minute presentations which showcased researchers from the classroom, academia, policy, industry and non-profits. For a full list, please view our conference agenda and proceedings that are housed at islandconference.org. The 2020 ISLAND conference will be Sept. 11-13 in Princeton, NJ.

August 2019:NFB of Michigan’s Sense-sational Adventures in Summer Science Camp

Rober Jaquiss, Contributor
Editor of Independence Science Newsletter
rjaquiss@independencescience.com

We encourage our staff at Independence Science to pursue their passion for helping blind and vision-impaired students engage with hands-on laboratory experiences. This year, Ashley Neybert is helping at the NFB of Michigan’s Sense-sational Adventures in Summer Science camp (email: YOUTH@NFBMI.ORG) which explores some of the Twisty, Turbulent Torrents of Science. The camp is August 4 through August 11, 2019.

The NFB of Michigan asks: Can learning science be fun? Can a musician or poet or graphic artist use science in their art? How about our water?  Is it cleaner or dirtier than it was 20 years ago? Is there more or less water now than in the past? Does your lawn care make a difference to a fish in the Great Lakes?  Does a ship coming from another part of our world change the Great Lakes as it picks up or delivers its freight? What is it doing here, anyway? Why is Detroit or Saginaw built where they are?  Is it geology, biology, weather or just random human choice which causes cities to grow where they are?

While we have divided science into many topics (chemistry, physics, geology, biology, medicine etc), we observe all of these sciences in play in the world around us at all times. This “seamless tapestry of interactivity” is what Sense-sational Adventures in Summer Science (SASS) investigates. Here, participants consider how geology, physics, chemistry and biology interact within a geological feature – the watershed – and how humans can change the very surface of the planet and the diversity of life itself.

This camp features professional blind scientists and experts in a variety of scientific fields. Participants will have opportunities to observe demonstrations and learn to use sophisticated state-of-the-art equipment, including the Sci-VoiceTM Talking Labquest to measure, record and analyze data to support their hypothesis. They will learn to be scientists and have a chance to be creative in an artistic way. Most of all, participants will have fun with other blind folks who are interested in science, as they float, paddle, probe, laugh and learn about science and our environment in The Twisty, Turbulent Torrents of Science.  

July 2019: 50th Anniversary of the Moon Landing

Rober Jaquiss, Contributor
Editor of Independence Science Newsletter
rjaquiss@independencescience.com

This year marks the 50th Anniversary of the 1st manned mission to the moon. This manned mission started July 16, 1969 with the landing on the moon occurring July 20. This landing and the excitement behind it led to many huge leaps in technology that we love today like GPS. We continue to work towards another future in space both through NASA and private space programs. The world’s 1st blind astronaut might be alive today. Want to learn more about space and accessibility? Make sure to sign up for our accessible space camp at ISLAND 2019!

Related to this, NASA’s Rebecca Doroshenk from the Office of Communications at NASA headquarters announces that Lunar Landing Site Models are available at https://www.nasa.gov/specials/apollo50th/media.html. These are downloadable 3D models available to the public of the historic Apollo lunar landing sites . For folks with access to 3D printers, these models each have brief descriptions in Braille.

June 2019: Independence Science’s Curriculum Specialist Ashley Neybert presents at the SciAccess Conference

Rober Jaquiss, Contributor
Editor of Independence Science Newsletter
rjaquiss@independencescience.com

First published May 2019

At Independence Science, we encourage our staff to pursue their passion for helping blind and vision-impaired students engage with hands-on laboratory experiences. This month, Ashley Neybert will present at the very first SciAccess conference at The Ohio State University. 

Ashley is the developer of the accessible version of the tornado in a bottle experiment and can make a flaming pumpkin that doesn’t burn. She is also a member of the American Chemical Society’s Chemists with Disabilities Committee and Vice-President of the National Federation of the Blind’s Science and Engineering Division. Ashley got her Bachelor’s in Chemistry at Rockhurst University in 2015 and is currently working on a Master’s in Education in Learning and Instructional Design at Wichita State University. To contact Ashley regarding product sales, curriculum design work, speaking engagements, and to teach at camps, workshops, and conferences, please email aneybert@independencescience.com or call 1-866-862-9665 xt 5.

SciAccess is an international conference that will explore the ways in which STEAM can be made more accessible for all. SciAccess will be taking place on June 28 and 29, 2019, at The Ohio State University. The conference features keynote speakers Dr. Temple Grandin, renowned autism advocate, and Anousheh Ansari, the first female private space explorer. For more information see the site: https://www.sciaccess.org/

March 2019: New Sci-Voice Talking LabQuest v2 is here!

Rober Jaquiss, Contributor
Editor of Independence Science Newsletter
rjaquiss@independencescience.com

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

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 a limited time, we are offering an introductory pricing for upgrading from an older LabQuest 2 of $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.

For more information, please check the Independence Science website.