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Committee on Chemists with Disabilities debuts accessible periodic table

by Maria T. Dulay, special to C&EN
September 14, 2019 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 97, Issue 36

Photo of a group of people in front of a giant periodic table.
Credit: Courtesy of Maria Dulay
Members of the Committee on Chemists with Disabilities pose with the periodic table.

At the American Chemical Society Fall 2019 National Meeting in San Diego, the ACS Committee on Chemists with Disabilities displayed an accessible periodic table that featured braille and sign language 3-D printed onto every element tile. The project celebrates the International Year of the Periodic Table and acknowledges the scientists with disabilities who have contributed to the creation of the periodic table since its discovery 150 years ago by Dmitri Mendeleev. Many attendees visited the display, including Sir Martyn Poliakoff, known for The Periodic Table of Videos. The periodic table was created as part of a yearlong collaboration with students from Michigan State University’s K–12 science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) program in Midland and with funding from Dow. The letter symbols that easily identify the elements were intentionally absent from each tile to simulate the challenges that a person with a disability may encounter in accessing the table. “People with disabilities are people with abilities,” said Adeleye Okewole, an educator from Nigeria who visited the display.


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