The Lewis Structure explorer: Accessible by Design

20 February 2024, Version 1
This content is a preprint and has not undergone peer review at the time of posting.


Successfully learning principles from drawing Lewis Structures sets the foundation for understanding more complex representations of chemical concepts. As these visual-based concepts are core competencies in chemical pedagogies, it is incumbent and required for educational institutions and faculty to provide usable accommodations for all students, including those with blindness and low-vision (BLV). The shift to visually based interactive digital media increases the technical challenge for addressing accessibility for BLV students and makes creating these accommodations by faculty even more difficult. This technology report presents research and development for providing a digital learning system for Lewis Structures designed to be directly accessible by BLV students and other screen reader users. This Lewis Structure explorer can be used by all students and includes a form-driven keyboard accessible control panel. The alternative (alt) text for the structural representations is generated dynamically with user input. The results from two usability studies, one with over 300 sighted college students and the other with four BLV adults who depend on alt text for non-text information, are presented.


High School/Introductory Chemistry
First Year Undergraduate/General Chemistry
Multimedia-based Learning
Computer-based learning

Supplementary materials

Supporting information
Alt text descriptions, data from usability study, and directions for screen reader use.

Supplementary weblinks


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