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Making Science Accessible

This section will feature media and other learning resources that are well suited for English language learners, K-12, and adult literacy programs.  We will feature here various resources and tools that teachers might find useful as well as feature projects that are in need of your help in order to make science content  accessible whether it is media, text, databases, or exhibits.   One especially useful tool for English language learners and learners with a hearing or cognitive disability is captioning.  Although a fairly time intensive process even for a 2-3 minute media clip, media having this feature can mean all the difference for a K-12 student who is learning both English and science.  _____________________________________________________________________________

PRAYING MANTIS-Caption Editors Needed

The below film is well suited for education but is in need of captioning. . .even minimal captioning of key scientific terms would be helpful.

Credit: Permission to use from Kinder Magic Software Ilse Ortabasi, Ph.D



Great example in the use of text with visuals in this impressive 7 minute trailer on a film about cicadas. . .Click image to see on YouTube.




A great action film well suited for Grades K-6






WHAT IS SIMPLE ENGLISH?  Wikipedia has for some time seen the need to have existing content translated into Simple English in order not to exclude diverse readers.  You can read more here about this initiative and its importance.



When talking about making science content accessible, we must also look at accessibility in scientific databases. For example the below section was taken from our own SCAN portal.  Scientific language has its distinctive own Latin based language for reasons specific to the needs of science and and taxonomy classification.  In order for one to contribute to or to engage in the scientific field one must know the language. If you do not know the language you will need to have a means of translating scientific content in order to understand its meaning.  For a teacher who wants to integrate database activities in a classroom the teacher would have to first translate what is being said before it could be taught and before it would have any meaning for their students.   The gap is especially huge for K-12 English language learners who must learn everyday English in addition to academic language in order to keep up and if they are to have any chance of passing the required state testing.

In order to make the below sample useful for the k-12 teacher, citizen scientist, or student who is not at the college level, the words that are shown in bold would need to have what we call in education “cognitive scaffolding” .   Support might include having a link with each term which would provide a definition, some alternative word choices, or even visual graphics as seen with the word emarginate seen below.


Piesocorynus tesselatus Schaeffer, 1906

Elytra nearly three times as long as the thorax, striate, striae rather closely punctate; alternate interspaces wider and slightly convex, with black and pale spots; acutellum white. Body beneath sparsely clothed with greyish pubescence. Legs black, tibiae near base and first joint of tarsi at base pale; second and third tarsal joints scarcely wider than first. Length 6.50 mm.

According to the description, this species must be near alternans from South America, but the legs are differently colored and the eighth antennal joint is not four times as long as apically broad. From our North American species it will easily be recognized by the markings of the elytra and by the form of the eighth antennal joint, which is similar to that of moestus. The third ventral segment is feebly convex at middle. The males of mixtus have on the third ventral segment a small tubercle at middle, and the eyes are emarginate, but very feebly.


See below Flash interaction as an excellent example as to how morphological terminologies can be made accessible. Click on image to interact.   



Building the Hymenopteron Tree of Life Project

HymAToL is a project funded by the National Science Foundation under the “Assembling the Tree Of Life” initiative,






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