Designing Innovative Science Assessments That Are Accessible for Students Who Are Blind

By Eric G. Hansen, Lei Liu, Aaron Rogat, Mark T. Hakkinen, and Marjorie Darrah

Preferred Citation

Hansen, E. G., Liu, L., Rogat, A., Hakkinen, M. T., & Darrah, M. (2016).
Designing innovative science assessments that are accessible for students who are blind. Journal of Blindness Innovation and Research, 6(1). Retrieved from doi:


This study was an initial effort to design and develop an accessible simulation-based science assessment task, involving evaporation of water, and to examine its usability via a largely qualitative case study of the experiences of three grade 8-9 students at a residential school for students who are blind. The task had three simulations of water particles in various stages of evaporation. Students used the science task in four conditions: (a) screen reader and supplementary non-speech audio, (b) game-controller-based haptics, (c) tablet-based vibrotactile haptics, and (d) tactile graphics. We found that students were able to use the task in all conditions with some success, though they experienced a range of usability issues. These issues could be addressed through improvements in one or more of (a) student familiarity with the access technologies, (b) design of the task content, and (c) the access technologies themselves and their applications in assessment settings.


Computer-based assessment, simulations, haptics, tactile graphics, assessment design

Full Text:



The Journal of Blindness Innovation and Research is copyright (c) 2016 to the National Federation of the Blind.