In many high school and college science classes, students often encounter the Periodic Table. Typically, it is presented in an inaccessible format, with lots of small numbers and hard to read text. However, there are many ways to make the Periodic Table accessible to people with low vision and blindness. Here are ten of my favorite resources that I have used, with a mix of print and digital resources. Bonus- all of the digital resources are free!
I was given this for my chemistry class junior year in the large print format. I liked that I could easily hold the book and that it was fairly lightweight for a large print book- I could easily carry it around the classroom if I needed to. I used the fold out periodic table included frequently as well, but cannot comment on the Braille portion as I am not a Braille reader. Read more on the APH website here.
NOVA is a program developed by PBS that includes an interactive periodic table, along with many other resources. It’s available on iPad, Windows 10 app store, and on the PBS website. I found the iPad app did not enlarge well, but I liked the website. Access it on the PBS website here.
My family had originally purchased this because we frequently watched the TV show The Big Bang Theory, and the Periodic Table shower curtain was one of the items on the show. However, I enjoyed being able to easily read the information, which was in large and high contrast print. Maybe it could be used for doing homework, or in addition to one of these other resources? Get it on Amazon here.
Bookshare has almost any book that a student could think of, including many books about the Periodic Table. Since Bookshare books now include high quality images, complete with alt text, students can easily read along in the Bookshare reader or whatever they prefer. Read my post about Bookshare here.
The Periodic Table app by the Royal Society of Chemistry allows students of all levels, from introductory to advanced, to access the Periodic Table. The app worked very well with the Zoom function, though I did not find the large text large enough to read. Luckily, the app includes narration for all of the information on the elements, and VoiceOver works well too. Get the Royal Society of Chemistry app here.
I couldn’t leave out Android when talking about applications. While I can’t find the exact name of the app that I used in high school on my phone, I found this app on the app store came highly rated and worked well. Get the Android app here.
Is there a specific copy of the Periodic Table needed? Scan it in as a high-quality PDF or PNG file that is available offline, so that it can be accessed in the event the internet goes out. Here is the Periodic Table used for testing in the state of Virginia.
On the education area of the Jefferson Lab website, there is a section called It’s Elemental that meets web accessibility standards. While I found the image slightly blurry when I zoomed in very far, it’s easy to click on an element and learn more about it- it’s easy to zoom in on the text provided. Access the Jefferson Lab website here.
I love my Amazon Echo Dot, and have a post on how I use the Echo for homework here. While I have found that looking up elements using Wikipedia is enough, users can also enable the Sage of Elements skill to learn more about the Periodic Table. Read the skill page here.
I found this while researching the Periodic Table on Paths to Literacy, a partner website with Perkins School for the Blind- read the full article here. This is an HTML app for iPad that includes audio embossing, which allows the user to drag their finger across the screen using VoiceOver. When selected, the app opens the Wikipedia article for the desired element. Check out VoiceOver accessible Periodic Table by SAS here.
There are so many ways to access the Periodic Table, and students should find the tool that works best for them- it’s different for everyone, after all. Also check with school policies on using external resources before choosing the one(s) that work for you!