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Distillations | Science History Institute

325 EpisodesProduced by Science History InstituteWebsite

Each episode of Distillations podcast takes a deep-dive into a moment of science-related history in order to shed light on the present.


Science and Disability

Everyone knows that observation is a key part of the scientific method, but what does that mean for scientists who can’t see? Judith Summers-Gates is a successful, visually impaired chemist who uses a telescope to read street signs. If the thought of a blind scientist gives you pause, you’re not alone. But stop and ask yourself why. What assumptions do we make about how knowledge is produced? And who gets to produce it? And who gets to participate in science?

In this episode we go deep into the history of how vision came to dominate scientific observation and how blind scientists challenge our assumptions. This is the first of two episodes about science and disability and was produced in collaboration with the Science and Disability oral history project at the Science History Institute.


Hosts: Alexis Pedrick and Elisabeth Berry Drago Senior Producer: Mariel Carr Producer: Rigoberto Hernandez Audio Engineer: James Morrison

Resource List

Lemonick, Sam. “Artificial intelligence tools could benefit chemists with disabilities. So why aren’t they?” C&EN, March 18, 2019. 

Martucci, Jessica. “History Lab: Through the Lens of Disability.” Science History Institute, June 22, 2019.  

Martucci, Jessica. “Through the Lens of Disability.” Distillations, November 8, 2018. 

Martucci, Jessica. “Science and Disability.” Distillations, August 18, 2017. 

Slaton, Amy. “Body? What Body? Considering Ability and Disability in STEM Disciplines.”120th ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, January 23, 2013.

Summers-Gates, Judith. Oral history conducted on 20 January and 6 February 2017 by Jessica Martucci and Lee Sullivan Berry, Science and Disability project, Science History Institute. 

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