Block from the periodic table: Sulfur,

Accessible periodic tables for low vision

How to access the Periodic Table with low vision - a great mix of paid and free assistive technology tools!

In my high school and college science classes, I frequently worked with the Periodic Table and discovered several accessible Periodic Tables for low vision that could be used in the classroom, at tutoring sessions, or at home when doing homework. Even though I’m not taking any science classes right now, I’ve seen lots of new and awesome options for using an accessible Periodic table, and today I will be sharing a roundup of my favorite accessible Periodic Tables for low vision, with a mix of paid and free resources.

APH Periodic Table

This is the first accessible Periodic Table for low vision that I ever worked with, and the school assistive technology specialist provided me this book to use in my chemistry class. The set comes with a large, colorful chart that displays the Periodic Table in Braille and large print, and a companion booklet in either large print or Braille that lists information about the elements inside. I remember appreciating the fact that the book and Periodic Table both fit on my desk since many large print materials I had encountered were too large for me to put on my desk or carry around the classroom, and I was approved to have this booklet for state standardized testing.

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Periodic table shower curtain

I wasn’t allowed to bring the APH Periodic Table home with me, but I wanted to have a large physical copy of the Periodic Table. My family and I were huge fans of the TV show “The Big Bang Theory” which features a character that has a Periodic Table shower curtain, so we decided to order one, jokingly saying that I would be able to use it for chemistry. While it’s not the most portable accessible Periodic Table for low vision, it worked out really well and the text was large enough for me to read. I wasn’t able to find our exact shower curtain (we purchased it from a store that has since gone out of business), but there are several options available on websites like Amazon, Society6, and similar locations.

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Resources on Bookshare

Bookshare has close to one million titles available in accessible formats for people with print disabilities, and students in the United States are eligible for a free Bookshare membership as long as they are taking classes. There are several books available on the Periodic Table in accessible formats for low vision, which is helpful for students who have to do a project or have assigned reading for a class.

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Independence Science Periodic Table

In college, I discovered the Independence Science Periodic Table website, which allows users to look at individual properties of the Periodic Table such as atomic mass, atomic radius, electron affinity, electronegativity, and ionization energy. This Periodic Table can be accessed with a screen reader, screen magnification tools, or with a high-contrast display, which is great for students with different vision conditions. I like that the website provides detailed information about how to navigate the table and that it includes sonification. Since it is a website, it can be accessed on any device such as a computer, tablet, or phone.

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The Elementor App

The Elementor app for iOS was created to be an interactive teaching and learning tool for students wanting to learn more about elements on the Periodic Table and is accessible for students with vision loss. Users can enter an atomic number, name, or symbol in the search bar of the app, and then listened to a narrated description of the element and its electron configuration- the narration is built into the app or users can turn on their screen reader. The text displayed in the app may be too small for some students to read, but I was able to use Zoom and magnify the text with no issues.

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PDF or PNG Copy

For assessments or assignments that require a specific copy of the Periodic Table, I strongly recommend getting a high-resolution PDF or PNG copy that can be accessed on a device so that students can easily zoom in and magnify important information. This is not the best option for students who use screen readers, though works well for students with other assistive technology needs.

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Using Amazon Alexa

Did you know that you can use Amazon Alexa to research the Periodic Table of elements? I typically ask Alexa to read information from Wikipedia about a specific element, though there are also Periodic Table skills available for download, such as Sage of Elements.

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SAS Periodic Table

I found out about the SAS Periodic Table web app through Perkins School For The Blind’s Paths to Literacy blog, and it’s an awesome accessible Periodic Table for the iPad. The SAS Periodic Table web app uses audio embossing, which allows the user to drag their finger across the screen using VoiceOver. When an element is selected, the app opens the Wikipedia article for the desired element. Users do not need to download an application to access this tool- it is used through the web browser.

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Other accessible Periodic Tables for low vision

By Veronica Lewis/Veronica With Four Eyes,

Updated August 2023; original post published October 2017

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