OIPO Disability Abstracts: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM)

Updated 6/26/2024

Adu-Boateng, S., & Goodnough, K. (2021). Examining a science teacher’s instructional practices in the adoption of inclusive pedagogy: A qualitative case study. Journal of Science Teacher Education Ahead-of-Print, 1-23. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/1046560X.2021.1915605

This qualitative case study involves a high school science teacher with a special education background in an urban school in the English School District of Newfoundland and Labrador. Conceptualized within the theoretical framework of Universal Design for Learning (UDL), this study examined the teacher’s instructional practices and the tensions she experienced in the adoption of inclusive science pedagogy. This is a descriptive study that used different data collection methods, including interviews, observations, and documents. Data were analyzed inductively with MAXQDA software using constant comparative analysis. Findings showed that the teacher’s instructional practices in the implementation of inclusive pedagogy focused on creating multiple means to (a) engage diverse students, (b) represent the science curriculum, and (c) enable diverse students to express and communicate their understanding of science. However, several tensions were identified, which impeded the teacher’s effort in the implementation of inclusive science pedagogy. These tensions include inadequate instructional resource teachers, inflexible science curriculum, overreliance on standardized testing, and inadequate professional learning. The paper concludes with implications for science teachers and pre-service teachers’ education, with recommendations on future research direction.

Anbuhl, K. L., Cazares, O., Hubert, K. A., Mahapatra, R., & Morgan, J. D. (2023, August). Navigating a research career with a disability
Development, 150(16), dev201906. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1242/dev.201906.
In recent years, we have seen an increasing focus in the academic environment on equity, diversity and inclusion. However, one broad group often left out of these discussions are disabled scientists/scientists with disabilities, who often face severe challenges entering the research profession and navigating their careers. Building on the success of the 2022 Young Embryologist Network’s meeting, which included a session on ‘Working in science with a disability’ ( Morgan, 2023) we learn here from the lived experiences of five biologists who share the challenges and successes of undertaking a scientific career with a disability, as well as accommodations that can make science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine (STEMM) careers more accessible and inclusive.
Anderson, J., Anderson, Z., Beaton, K., Bhandari, S., Bultinck, E., Ching, J., Clark, H., Ho, L., Holloway, R., Hopping, L., Hrosz, M., Hrvojevic, D., Huneycutt, A., Iglesias, J., Jogopulos, J.,  Joshi, S., King, T., Klug, M., LaMonaca, G., McCarthy, K., McCarthy, J., Moffatt, M., Pothireddy, S., Prasad, A., Ramos, A., Srivanich, Y., Taina, L., Varathan, S., Wesling, R., & Duerstock, B. S. (2022). Challenges in Inclusiveness for People with Disabilities within STEM Learning and Working Environments. Undergraduate Coursework Paper 5.
This report is a reflection on the necessity for the inclusion of people with disabilities in the field of STEM and the different methods and processes that need to be revised or implemented to achieve this goal. It will delve into further detail about the challenges facing PWDs in STEM through interview anecdotes and survey results. Each solution offered will be accompanied by thorough research and support. Policymakers, teachers and students may use these recommendations to break down barriers to STEM careers and build a more inclusive future.
Antonini, C. (2022). The interface of science and disability: A personal view. Langmuir, 38, 50, 15451–15452. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.langmuir.2c03250.
“…is there any nexus between being a person with a disability and being a scientist? My personal answer is yes, in at least two ways: First, my disability has given me the self-confidence to develop a problem-solver attitude, and second, it has taught me to look at the person, beyond labels” (p. 15451).

Armstrong, M. A., & Averett, S. L. (2024). Women with disabilities in STEM. In Disparate measures: The intersectional economics of women in STEM work (pp. 183-212). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Being a person with a disability is a complex identity that is welded to concepts that are central to this book—opportunity, bias, and systemic disadvantage. The significance of the category is matched by its complexity: to ask what the term disability means is to invoke (intertwined) political, economic, legal, medical, and social factors whose richness and dimensionality far exceed what this case study can summarize. The literature on the history of disability in the US reveals not only entrenched ableism but also the extent to which the idea of disability has transformed over the last century (Albrecht, Seelman, and Bury 2003; Francis and Silvers 2016; Grue 2016; Stiker [1999] 2019). And like many social-identity categories, disability cuts both ways: it is a social project that is always under construction and is also increasingly understood as an identity group and a focal point for building communities, seeking rights and protections, and promoting positive social change.

Batty, L., & Reilly, K. (2022). Understanding barriers to participation within undergraduate STEM laboratories: Towards development of an inclusive curriculum, Journal of Biological Education. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/00219266.2021.2012227.

The increase in student diversity, legislative changes and shift towards the social model of disability has led to greater emphasis on inclusive curricula within Higher Education (HE). Whilst there are good examples for changes in assessment, delivery and student support, specific challenges faced by Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics students in relation to laboratory teaching are less well understood. A questionnaire approach was used to determine barriers that students face within laboratory teaching. Questionnaire invitations were distributed by email to undergraduate students at institutions within the United Kingdom with a total of 232 responses. Results indicated a lower sense of belonging for female students and those with a disability. Differences between ethnic groups could not be identified due to low numbers of Black Asian, Minority Ethnic students, which highlights broader issues of participation in STEM subjects. Prior experience of students in relation to the number of labs, rather than subject, was also important, emphasising the critical link between school and HE. Communication of information was critical for learning with students often requiring multiple methods; timing and structure of this were important. A more inclusive lab environment can be developed through the use of online support, better structuring of labs and changes to assessment.

Beardmore, D. C., Sandekian, R., & Bielefeldt , A. (2022, August). Supporting STEM graduate students with dis/abilities: Opportunities for Universal Design for Learning. 
Paper presented at 2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Minneapolis, MN.

While little is known about the enrollment and retention rates of STEM graduate students, studies indicate that the way higher education generally approaches STEM graduate programs overlooks and excludes individuals with dis/abilities. This research examines the experiences of STEM graduate students with non-apparent (also called “invisible”) dis/abilities as related through the lens of critical dis/ability theory. In this paper, we review the findings from the first phase of a larger study through the lens of Universal Design for Learning (UDL). We used Harvey’s interview process to explore the experiences of two STEM graduate students who self-identify as having “invisible” dis/abilities or “different abilities” through a progressive series of interviews. In this paper, we review a selection of the participant’s experiences and provide recommendations on how UDL can be implemented to overcome the barriers graduate students may be facing in their coursework, research, and advising. We provide these recommendations in an effort to create a more inclusive and welcoming environment for all graduate students. Further, we hope that our research findings help individuals serving university students at any level in any discipline ask what opportunities they have to create a more inclusive and welcoming environment through the tenants of UDL.

Bratanovskii, S., Bogdanova, Y., Orsayeva, R., Khimmataliev, D., & Rezanovich, I. (2020). Problems of accessibility of higher engineering education for students with special needs. Opción, 36, Special Edition No. 27, 2192-2219. Recuperado a partir de https://produccioncientificaluz.org/index.php/opcion/article/view/32533

The article is devoted to studying the problems of accessibility of higher engineering education for people with disabilities and persons with disabilities (PWD), i.e. persons with special learning needs (SLN). Vocational education in modern conditions is becoming a social elevator, giving people with disabilities and disabilities an opportunity for socialization and employment. Studying foreign experience reveals the effectiveness of inclusive education. The article describes the current state of inclusive higher education, including engineering, in foreign countries (USA, Austria, Finland, etc.) and Russia. The successful practices of training people with higher education in foreign universities are presented. The characteristic of modern trends in the development of inclusive education in the Russian Federation is fulfilled. The criteria of affordable education in a world practice are highlighted in order to compare and evaluate its effectiveness in the Russian Federation. The advantages and disadvantages of the existing training system for disabled people and people with disabilities in Russian practice are noted. Weak demand for engineering specialties in universities of the Russian Federation was revealed. A study of the causes of this phenomenon.

Busch, C. A., Wiesenthal, N. J., Mohammed, T. F., Anderson, S., Barstow, M., Custalow, C., Gajewski, J., Garcia, K., Gilabert, C. K., Hughes, J., Jenkins, A., Johnson, M., Kasper, C., Perez, I., Robnett, B., Tillett, K., Tsefrekas, L., Goodwin, E. C., & Cooper, K. M. (2023). The disproportionate impact of fear of negative evaluation on first-generation college students, LGBTQ+ students, and students with disabilities in college science courses. CBE—Life Sciences Education, 22(3), ar31, 1–16.

Fear of negative evaluation (FNE), defined as a sense of dread associated with being negatively judged in a social situation, has been identified as the primary factor underlying undergraduate anxiety in active-learning science courses. However, no quantitative studies have examined the extent to which science undergraduates experience FNE and how they are impacted by FNE in college science courses. To address this gap, we surveyed 566 undergraduates from one university in the U.S. Southwest who were enrolled in life sciences courses where they had opportunities to speak in front of the whole class. Participants were asked a suite of questions regarding their experiences with FNE in large-enrollment college science courses. We found that first-generation college students, LGBTQ+ students, and students with disabilities reported disproportionately high levels of FNE compared with their counterparts. Additionally, students reported that FNE can cause them to overthink their responses and participate less in class. Participants rated being cold called and presenting alone as forms of whole-class participation that elicit the highest levels of FNE. This research highlights the impact of FNE on undergraduates and provides student-generated recommendations to reduce FNE in active- learning science courses.

Carrera Zamanillo, I. (2022). Breaking barriers for those with hidden disabilities. Nature Reviews Earth & Environment, 3, 809–810. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/s43017-022-00374-w.

Chronic illnesses, mental health issues, and other hidden disabilities can be debilitating, especially in combination with stigmatization and lack of proper accommodations. Breaking barriers in academic systems for those with hidden disabilities demands that personal, institutional and organizational ableist biases are overcome, writes Isabel Carrera Zamanillo.

Castro, I. O., & Atchison, C. L. (2024, March 14). Acknowledging the intersectionality of geoscientists with disabilities to enhance diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility. In A. Al Suwaidi, S. Hope, N. Dowey, & K. Goodenough (Eds.), Inclusion and Diversity in Earth and Environmental Sciences [Special Issue]. Earth Science, Systems and Society. DOI: https://doi.org/10.3389/esss.2024.10081.

The geosciences have implemented a variety of efforts designed to strengthen diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA) of underrepresented groups. While these efforts have had substantial financial investment, recruitment and retention for underrepresented individuals has yet to reflect this. To improve the resources available for underrepresented scholars, the geoscience community must expand its exploration of identity beyond a singular construct, and instead focus on how identities intersect. In this exploratory study, the framework of intersectionality will be highlighted to better understand the convergence of disability with other underrepresented identities in the geoscience disciplines. Major themes of social inclusion and belonging, power, safety, and opportunity are presented through the lived experiences of geoscientists, along with recommendations on expanding broadening participation efforts for underrepresented individuals in the geosciences.

Cech, E. A. (2022, June 15). The intersectional privilege of white able-bodied heterosexual men in STEM. Science Advances, 8(24), eabo1558. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.abo1558.

A foundational assumption of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) inequality research is that members of the most well represented demographic group—white able-bodied heterosexual men (WAHM)—are uniquely privileged in STEM. But is this really the case? Using survey data of U.S. STEM professionals (N = 25,324), this study examines whether WAHM experience better treatment and rewards in STEM compared with members of all 31 other intersectional gender, race, sexual identity, and disability status categories. Indicating systematic advantages accompanying WAHM status, WAHM experience more social inclusion, professional respect, and career opportunities, and have higher salaries and persistence intentions than STEM professionals in 31 other intersectional groups. Decomposition analyses illustrate that these advantages operate in part as premiums—benefits attached to WAHM status that cannot be attributed to variation in human capital, work effort, and other factors. These findings motivate research and policy efforts to move beyond a single axis paradigm to better understand and address intersectional (dis)advantages in STEM.

Cech, E. A. (2023, April). Engineering ableism: The exclusion and devaluation of engineering students and professionals with physical disabilities and chronic and mental illness. Journal of Engineering Education, 112(2), 462-487. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/jee.20522.

Background: The experiences of students and professionals with disabilities are routinely excluded from scholarly and policy debates about equity in engineering. Emergent research suggests that engineering is particularly ableist, yet systematic accounts of the possible exclusion and devaluation faced by engineers with disabilities are largely missing.

Purpose/Hypothesis: This paper asks, do engineers with disabilities have more negative interpersonal experiences in engineering classrooms and workplaces than those without disabilities? Utilizing a social relational model of disability, I hypothesize that engineers with physical disabilities and chronic and mental illness are more likely to experience exclusion and professional devaluation than their peers and, partly as a result, have lower persistence intentions.

Data/Methods: The paper uses survey data from 1729 students enrolled in eight US engineering programs (American Society for Engineering Education Diversity and Inclusion Survey) and 8321 US-employed engineers (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math Inclusion Study Survey). Analyses use regression, mediation, and intersectional approaches.

Results: Consistent with expectations, engineering students and professionals with disabilities are less likely than their peers to experience social inclusion and professional respect at school and work. Students with disabilities are more likely to intend to leave their engineering programs and professionals with disabilities are more likely to have thought about leaving their engineering jobs compared to peers, and their greater risks of encountering interpersonal bias help account for these differences. Analyses also reveal intersectional variation by gender and race/ethnicity.

Conclusion: These results suggest that engineering harbors widespread ableism across education and work. The findings demand more scholarly attention to the social, cultural, and physical barriers that block people with disabilities from full and equal participation in engineering.

Chun, J., Zhou, K.,  Rumrill, S., & Tittelbach, T. STEM career pathways for transition-age youth with disabilities. Rehabilitation Research, Policy, and Education, 37(1), 36-48. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1891/RE-22-15.

Background: Although there is an increasing demand for workers in STEM fields, people with disabilities are underrepresented in STEM educational programs and related occupations. Among those who achieved competitive integrated employment after serving under an Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE) by the state-federal vocational rehabilitation (VR) system, only 5.3% of individuals with disabilities were engaged in STEM jobs/careers during the years 2017–2019. Of those with an employment outcome in STEM fields, 8,348 (40.9%) were transition-age youth aged 14–24.

Objective: Using Rehabilitation Service Administration (RSA-911) data for the fiscal years from 2017 to 2019, the current study investigated the characteristics of transition-age youth with disabilities aged 14–24 in the state-federal VR system that predicted employment outcomes in STEM fields.

Methods: A logistic regression analysis was used to examine the associations between individual characteristics and STEM career attainment.

Findings: Results illustrated that gender, race, living arrangement, and the receipt of general assistance/SSI/SSDI/TANF predicted employment outcomes in STEM fields.

Conclusions: The research findings provide support for the understanding of demographic characteristics of transition-age youth with disabilities successfully closed in STEM jobs/careers after serving under an IPE. A discussion of the strategies and interventions associated with promoting career development and decisions toward the STEM field for transition-age youth with disabilities is provided.

D’Agostino, A. T. (2021). Accessible teaching and learning in the undergraduate chemistry course and laboratory for blind and low-vision students. In Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Respect in Chemistry Education Research and Practice [Special Issue]. Journal of Chemical Education ASAP. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.jchemed.1c00285

Symbolic, spatial, and visual information, which is important for comprehending and learning physical and natural sciences, is not readily accessible to blind and low-vision (BLV) students in the undergraduate chemistry classroom, laboratory, and virtual environment via conventional means (through print and images), thus, creating a disadvantageous and inequitable situation. Appropriate instruction methods can be used to include these differently abled students in the learning process while also enhancing the learning outcomes of a diverse student population. By considering the teaching approach and universal design practices, and utilizing adapted methods, collaborative learning, and nonvisual assistive technologies and equipment, chemistry classroom/laboratory work for BLV students can be transformed from a passive experience to an active one. By creating the least restrictive learning environment, BLV students are enabled to become independent workers. Nonvisual ways (i.e., auditory, and text-to-speech applications, speech-enabled equipment, tactile graphics, and physical artifacts) by which BLV students can conduct their work are described, and practical ways for faculty to enhance teaching are presented.

Diele-Viegas, L. M., de Almeida, T. S., Amati-Martins, I. et al. (2022). Community voices: Sowing, germinating, flourishing as strategies to support inclusion in STEM. Nature Communications 133219. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-022-30981-6.

Understanding gaps in academic representation while considering the intersectionality concept is paramount to promoting real progress towards a more inclusive STEM. Here we discuss ways in which STEM careers can be sown and germinated so that inclusivity can flourish.

Ellis-Robinson, T. (2021). Identity development and intersections of disability, race, and STEM: Illuminating perspectives on equity. Cultural Studies of Science Education1149–1162. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11422-020-10011-x.

In this commentary, I discuss the impetus for the study to examine the effect on connectedness to STEM and equitable outcomes in STEM participation for students who are deaf/hard of hearing, and representative of other marginalized identities. Maggie Renken et al.’s theoretical perspective on identity development, intersectionality, and STEM, provide context for understanding barriers and considering practices for supporting development of a STEM identity and pursuit of STEM-related careers. Attention to identity formation and social components of identity formation are key to the study’s significance. I expound upon an extension of the focus on students’ identity development to include an underlying attention to equity and the redressing of systemic oppressions that have prevented access to STEM in the past. I will suggest deepening of the analysis to go beyond an understanding of the utility of identity formation to unearth systemic barriers that are residually evident in the socially influenced development process and in the professional world of STEM.

Fiss, B. G., D’Alton, L., & Noah, N. M. (2023, November 27). Chemistry is inaccessible: How to reduce barriers for disabled scientists. Nature, 623, 913-915. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/d41586-023-03634-x.

From classrooms to laboratories and conferences, working in chemistry presents huge challenges to disabled, chronically ill and neurodivergent people. Some simple fixes can help to shift the dial.

Friedensen, R., Lauterbach, A., Kimball, E., & Mwangi, C. G. (2021, Spring). Students with high-incidence disabilities in STEM: Barriers encountered in postsecondary learning environments. Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability, 34(1), 77-90.

Students with non-apparent, high-incidence disabilities encounter barriers in postsecondary STEM learning environments. These barriers negatively influence their success therein. Using Fishkin’s (2014) theory of bottlenecks within opportunity structures, data from 16 qualitative interviews show how barriers encountered serve to constrain the success of students with disabilities. These barriers exist during the transition to postsecondary STEM learning environments, and arise from peer and faculty behavior, organizational structures, and the alignment of STEM and disability identity. Major implications relate to the redesign of STEM learning environments and the use of bottlenecks as analytic lens for studying the experiences of students with disabilities.

Gavrilova, Y., Bogdanova, Y., Orsayeva, R., Khimmataliev, D. & Rezanovich, I. (2021). Peculiarities of training engineering students with disabilities. International Journal of Engineering Pedagogy, 11(4), 148-164. DOI: https://doi.org/10.3991/IJEP.V11I4.21361

In this day and age, there are increasing discussions and calls for shifting towards inclusive education. In view of this, the present study intended to identify the most severe challenges disabled engineering students face according to their own view and find possible ways to solve them. For this particular aim, a survey of 555 students from five universities of Russia, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan was performed. These were the Bauman Moscow State Technical University, Northern Trans-Ural State Agricultural University, Sarsen Amanzholov East Kazakhstan State University, Tashkent Institute of Irrigation and Agricultural Mechanization Engineers, and South Ural State University. The survey was carried out in two stages. The first focused on identifying the main problems of disabled students (physical environment, staff skills and knowledge, theory-practice relationship, assessment peculiarities, and bias). The second intended to define the most critical of them (unadapted physical environment and reduced abilities to apply theoretical knowledge in practice). To resolve these issues, the authors propose the following recommendations to be adopted. These include adapted laboratories and equipment; programs that allow performing practical tasks; engineering tutors able to assist in performing practical tasks; an adapted assessment system with reference to health condition; psychological support to integrate disabled students into an inclusive team and eliminate prejudices. The obtained research findings can be used by other universities to promote a comprehensive integration of students with special needs into the educational process.

Gin, L. E., Pais, D., Cooper, K. M., & Brownell, S. E. (2022). Students with disabilities in life science undergraduate research experiences: Challenges and opportunities. CBE Life Science Education, 21, ar32. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1187/cbe.21-07-0196.

Individuals with disabilities are underrepresented in postsecondary science education and in science careers, yet few studies have explored why this may be. A primary predictor of student persistence in science is participating in undergraduate research. However, it is unclear to what extent students with disabilities are participating in research and what the experiences of these students in research are. To address this gap in the literature, in study 1, we conducted a national survey of more than 1200 undergraduate researchers to determine the percent of students with disabilities participating in undergraduate research in the life sciences. We found that 12% of undergraduate researchers we surveyed self-identified as having a disability, which indicates that students with disabilities are likely underrepresented in undergraduate research. In study 2, we conducted semistructured interviews with 20 undergraduate researchers with disabilities. We identified unique challenges experienced by students with disabilities in undergraduate research, as well as some possible solutions to these challenges. Further, we found that students with disabilities perceived that they provide unique contributions to the research community. This work provides a foundation for creating undergraduate research experiences that are more accessible and inclusive for students with disabilities.

Girolamo, T., Castro, N., Eisel Hendricks, A., Ghali, S., & Eigsti, I. (2022, Nov. 21). Implementation of Open Science Practices in Communication Sciences and Disorders Research with Black, Indigenous, and People of Color. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing e-Pub Ahead of Issue. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1044/2022_JSLHR-22-00272.

Purpose: Open science that is truly accessible and transparent to all will enhance reproducibility. However, there are ethical and practical concerns in implementing open science practices, especially when working with populations who are systematically excluded from and marginalized in communication sciences and disorders (CSD) research, such as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) from clinical populations. The purpose of this article was to discuss these concerns and present actionable steps to support open science in CSD research with BIPOC.

Conclusions: In the movement toward open and reproducible science, the discipline of CSD must prioritize accessibility and transparency, in addition to the implementation of individual scientific practices. Such a focus requires building trust with BIPOC not only as research participants but also as valued leaders of the scientific community.

Gordián-Vélez, W. J. (2022). Policy Position Paper: Ensuring the Inclusion of People with Disabilities in STEM Education and Careers. Journal of Science Policy & Governance, 20(2). DOI: https://doi.org/10.38126/JSPG200203.

Achieving full inclusion for people with disabilities in STEM is a matter of national security, economic prosperity, and equity. People with disabilities in STEM are underrepresented in postsecondary degrees and employment and they have higher unemployment rates and earn less. Inaction at the federal level has contributed to perpetuating these disparities. The federal government, especially through a signed law, could provide the funding and mandate to establish the institutional support, resources, and incentives needed so people with disabilities have equitable access to STEM and they can contribute to the scientific and technological innovation the U.S. needs to confront its great challenges. Congress has lately been working to bolster the country’s scientific and technological enterprise and to increase the diversity of our STEM workforce, through HR4521, the America COMPETES Act, and S1260, the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act. Some of these proposals are promising but fail to include provisions specific to people with disabilities. As Congress considers a HR4521/S1260 compromise bill, it has the opportunity to include programs that ensure the inclusion and promote the success of people with disabilities in STEM.

Kingsburg, C. G., Silbert, E. C., Killingback, Z., & Atchison, C. L. (2020). “Nothing about us without us:” The perspectives of autistic geoscientists on inclusive instructional practices in geoscience education. Journal of Geoscience Education, 68(4), 302-310. DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1080/10899995.2020.1768017.

Increasingly more students with disabilities, including autistic or otherwise neurodiverse students, are studying for degrees in STEM field subjects. In recent years, there has been an increased effort from the geoscience education community to make teaching more accessible and inclusive to these students. However, much of the literature on this topic lacks the voice of the individuals these practices aim to serve. This, combined with the medical, deficit-based understanding of autism typically presented in the literature, has resulted in the perpetuation of harmful stereotypes, along with recommendations that may not actually serve as best practice. Here we present a more accurate and holistic explanation of what autism actually is, using our lived experiences as autistic geoscientists. We then outline a comprehensive framework for best supporting autistic and neurodiverse geoscience students, with a focus on field-based learning. This framework includes three pillars: (a) develop effective communication pathways with autistic students, (b) presume competence and include autistic students in the planning of their own accommodations, and (c) employ strategies for expectation management. We also touch on the importance of recognizing the sensory processing aspects of autism spectrum conditions and suggest strategies for minimizing these difficulties in a field environment. By centering autistic voices in the discussion of how to support autistic geoscience students, we hope to change the narrative of inclusion for this diverse, but significant population.

Kwong, E., & Lu, T. (2021, May 28). Short wave: Disabled scientists are often excluded from the labNational Public Radio [Website]. 

“Scientists and students with disabilities are often excluded from laboratories — in part because of how they’re designed. Emily Kwong speaks to disabled scientist Krystal Vasquez on how her disability changed her relationship to science, how scientific research can become more accessible, and how STEM fields need to change to be more welcoming to disabled scientists.”

Limas, J. C., Corcoran, L. C., Baker, A. N., Cartaya, A. N., & Ayres, Z. S. (2022). The impact of research culture on mental health & diversity in STEM. Chemistry: A European Journal Early View. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/chem.202102957.

This paper focuses on key aspects of academic research culture that can impact STEM researcher mental health: bullying and harassment; precarity of contracts; diversity, inclusion, and accessibility; and the competitive research landscape, as well as exploring why mental health matters for researchers. Further, key recommendations are provided and actionable steps are outlined that institutions can take to make research in STEM inclusive for all.

The onset of COVID-19, coupled with the finer lens placed on systemic racial disparities within our society, has resulted in increased discussions around mental health. Despite this, mental health struggles in research are still often viewed as individual weaknesses and not the result of a larger dysfunctional research culture. Mental health interventions in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) academic community often focus on what individuals can do to improve their mental health instead of focusing on improving the research environment. In this paper, we present four aspects of research that may heavily impact mental health based on our experiences as research scientists: bullying and harassment; precarity of contracts; diversity, inclusion, and accessibility; and the competitive research landscape. Based on these aspects, we propose systemic changes that institutions must adopt to ensure their research culture is supportive and allows everyone to thrive.

Mattison, S. M., Gin, L., Abraham, A. A.,Moodie, M., Okanlami, F., & Wander, K. (2022). Community voices: Broadening participation in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, and Medicine among persons with disabilities. Nature Communications, 13(7208). DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-022-34711-w.

Disability has too often been peripheral to efforts to widen the STEMM pipeline, hampering research quality and innovation. Inspired by change in education delivery and research collaborations during the pandemic, we offer a structure for efforts to recruit and retain disabled scientists and practitioners.

McCall, C., Shew, A., Simmons, D. R., Paretti, M. C., & McNair, L. D. (2020). Exploring student disability and professional identity: navigating sociocultural expectations in U.S. undergraduate civil engineering programs. Australasian Journal of Engineering Education, 25(1), 79-89. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/22054952.2020.1720434.

National agencies throughout Australia and the United States (U.S.) have called for broadened participation in engineering, including participation by individuals with disabilities. However, studies demonstrate that students with disabilities are not effectively supported by university systems and cultures. This lack of support can shape how students form professional identities as they move through school and into careers. To better understand these experiences and create a more inclusive environment in engineering, we conducted a constructivist grounded theory exploration of professional identity formation in students who identify as having a disability as they study civil engineering and experience their first year of work. We conducted semi-structured interviews with 24 undergraduate civil engineering students across the U.S. and analysed them using grounded theory techniques. Navigating sociocultural expectations of disability emerged as one key theme, consisting of three strategy types: (1) neutrally satisfying expectations, (2) challenging expectations, and (3) aligning with expectations. Regardless of strategy, all participants navigated sociocultural expectations related to their studies and their disabilities. This theme highlights the ways sociocultural influences impact students’ navigation through their undergraduate civil engineering careers. These findings can be used to examine cultural barriers faced by students with disabilities to enhance their inclusion in engineering.

McDonald, N., Massey, A. & Hamidi, F. (2021, December). AI-Enhanced Adaptive Assistive Technologies: Methods for AI Design Justice. In S. Pan & J. Foulds (Eds.), Responsible AI and Human-AI Interaction [Special Issue]. Bulletin of the Technical Committee on Data Engineering, 44(4), 3-13.

The design of artificial intelligent (AI) enhanced adaptive assistive technologies (AATs) presents exciting promise for those with motor or audio/vision impairment. However, these technologies also introduce tremendous privacy risks, particularly for those with compounding identity vulnerabilities. In this paper, we reflect on why and how AATs need to be designed in collaboration with intersectional AAT users to
ensure that the benefits of AI do not sacrifice privacy for the most vulnerable. We discuss methods and tools we have developed to meet these challenges, lessons we have learned from studies with them, and future opportunities.

Mendelson III, J. R. (2022). Letters to the Editor: What happens when a field biologist becomes disabled? Herpetological Review, 53(1), 64–66.

“What happens when fieldwork goes away? What happens when a field biologist suddenly becomes disabled?” (p. 64).

Mercer-Mapstone, L., Banas, K., Davila, Y., Huston, W., Meier, P., & Mekonnen, B. (2021). ‘I’m not alone’: outcomes of a faculty-wide initiative for co-creating inclusive science curricula through student–staff partnership. International Journal for Academic Development Ahead-of-Print. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/1360144X.2021.1988618.

We explored the experiences of and outcomes for students and staff working in partnership on an academic development project aiming to enhance the inclusivity of science curricula across a faculty. Quantitative survey data revealed changes in student and staff perceptions, including increases in sense of belonging for both, perceptions of fairness in decision-making for students, and increased adoption of inclusive teaching practices for staff. Open responses articulated the benefits and challenges of the project. Implications of this research will be relevant to academic developers working in similar spaces, such as decolonising the curriculum or engaging students as partners in development work.

Mikropoulos, T. A., & Iatraki, G. (2022). Digital technology supports science education for students with disabilities: A systematic review. Education and Information Technologies. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10639-022-11317-9.

Students with disabilities are being encouraged to achieve high academic standards in science education to understand the natural world, acquire life skills, and experience career success. To this end, digital technology supports students with disabilities in order for them to achieve science literacy. While relevant research has presented evidence-based practices to teach science content, the role of technology has yet to be clearly defined in teaching and learning processes. This article presents a systematic literature review on the contribution of technology in science education for students with disabilities. A total of 21 journal articles, during the 2013–2021 period, were identified after an exhaustive search in academic databases. The educational context and learning outcomes of these 21 empirical studies were analyzed. The results show that increased motivation was the main contribution for using digital technology in science education. Positive learning outcomes likely depend on the way digital technology is used, i.e., affordances of each specific technological implementation. Digital technology and its affordances are recommended among other quality indicators for evidence-based research designs in digitally supported learning environments for students with disabilities.

Morgan, J. D. (2023, August). Disability and developmental biology. Development, 150(16), dev201905. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1242/dev.201905.

Disabled scientists face tremendous barriers to entry into, and progression within, a scientific career, remaining immensely under-represented at every career stage. Disability inclusivity drives in science are increasingly prevalent, but few data are available from the developmental biology community specifically. The Young Embryologist Network sought to draw attention to this by platforming disability inclusivity as a key theme at the 2022 conference. Here, I review literature exploring disabled scientists’ experiences in academia, report findings from the conference attendee survey and spotlight a new disability support grant from the British Society for Developmental Biology. I also highlight specific unmet needs and suggest educational resources and actionable measures in the hope of improving the experiences of disabled scientists in our community.

National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES). (2023). Diversity and STEM: Women, minorities, and persons with disabilities 2023 [Special Report NSF 23-315]. Alexandria, VA: National Science Foundation.

A diverse workforce provides the potential for innovation by leveraging different backgrounds, experiences, and points of view. Innovation and creativity, along with technical skills relying on expertise in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), contribute to a robust STEM enterprise. Furthermore, STEM workers have higher median earnings and lower rates of unemployment compared with non-STEM workers. This report provides high-level insights from multiple data sources into the diversity of the STEM workforce in the United States.

Nishchyk, A., & Chen, W. (2018, January). Integrating Universal Design and Accessibility into Computer Science Curricula – A Review of Literature and Practices in Europe. Studies in Health Technology and Informatics, 256, 56-66. DOI: https://doi.org/10.3233/978-1-61499-923-2-56.

The absence of accessibility in many ICT systems and products indicates insufficient accessibility competence among designers, developers and project managers. Higher education institutions play an important role in raising awareness and competence and in preparing universal design and digital accessibility specialists. Although many universities are teaching accessibility as part of the biomedical, special education and disability studies programmes, few provide accessibility education in technical specialisations such as computer science. By combining literature review and manual search and inspection we aim at investigating the state of the art in integrating universal design and digital accessibility into the curricula of computer sciences-related programmes.

Orndorf, H. C., Waterman, M.,. Lange, D., Kavin, D., Johnston, S. C., & Jenkins, K. P. (2022). Opening the Pathway: An Example of Universal Design for Learning as a Guide to Inclusive Teaching Practices. CBE—Life Sciences Education, 21(2). DOI: https://doi.org/10.1187/cbe.21-09-0239.

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) provides a flexible framework for supporting a wide variety of learners. We report here on a conference that presented the UDL framework as a way to increase success of deaf and hard-of-hearing (deaf/hh) students in introductory biology courses. The Opening the Pathway conference was an NSF Advanced Technological Education project focusing on raising awareness about careers in biotechnology and student success in introductory biology, a key gateway course for careers in biotechnology. The participants were professionals who work with deaf/hh students at pivotal points in students’ educational pathways for raising awareness of biotechnology career options, including community college faculty, high school faculty at schools for the deaf, and American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters. The conference goal was to provide an effective, meaningful professional development experience in biology instruction. The conference explicitly addressed the role of a UDL approach in building accessible, inclusive, productive learning environments, particularly for deaf/hh students, and demonstrated how to make effective pedagogical practices, specifically case-based learning, inclusive and UDL-aligned in an introductory biology context. We describe the conference, conference outcomes for participants, and in particular the application of the UDL framework to create an inclusive experience.

Pérez-Montero, E., Barnés-Castaño, C., & Garcí a López-Caro, E. (2022). Audio description and other inclusive resources in the outreach project Astroaccesible. arXiv:2206.09703 [astro-ph.IM]. DOI: https://doi.org/10.48550/arXiv.2206.09703.

Astroaccesible is an outreach project hosted by the Instituto de AstrofÍ sica de AndalucÍ a – CSIC and leaded by a blind astronomer aimed at the teaching and popularisation of astronomy and astrophysics among all kind of disabled and non-disabled people. Among the different strategies followed to transmit information to blind and partially sighted people, audio description is one of the most accessible and popular in the case of films and museums, but it has not been yet widely incorporated for the description of astronomical images. In this contribution we introduce {“The Universe in words”, which are a series of videos describing images of some of the most popular objects in the Messier catalogue. These audio descriptions do not only have a clear inclusive aspect, but also imply a better and deeper understanding of the represented images for everybody. This is one of the most important aspects of using inclusive resources, as they also clearly improve the efficiency of the transmission process for all kind of public. These videos can also be used as supplementary material in of in-person activities and as a complement to other kind of materials, such as sonifications or models of the same or similar type of astronomical objects.

Pester, C. W., Noh, G., & Fu, A. (2023). On the importance of mental health in STEM. ACS Polymers Au. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1021/acspolymersau.2c00062.

From homework to exams to proposal deadlines, STEM academia bears many stressors for students, faculty, and administrators. The increasing prevalence of burnout as an occupational phenomenon, along with anxiety, depression, and other mental illnesses in the STEM community is an alarming sign that help is needed. We describe common mental illnesses, identify risk factors, and outline symptoms. We intend to provide guidance on how some people can cope with stressors while also giving advice for those who wish to help their suffering friends, colleagues, or peers. We hope to spark more conversation about this important topic that may affect us all─while also encouraging those who suffer (or have suffered) to share their stories and serve as role models for those who feel they cannot speak.

Peterson, R. J. (2021, April). We need to address ableism in science. Molecular Biology of the Cell, 32(7), 507-510. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1091/mbc.E20-09-0616.

In science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields, disabled people remain a significantly underrepresented part of the workforce. Recent data suggests that about 20% of undergraduates in the United States have disabilities, but representation in STEM fields is consistently lower than in the general population. Of those earning STEM degrees, only about 10% of undergraduates, 6% of graduate students, and 2% of doctoral students identify as disabled. This suggests that STEM fields have difficulty recruiting and retaining disabled students, which ultimately hurts the field, because disabled scientists bring unique problem-solving perspectives and input. This essay briefly explores the ways in which ableism—prejudice against disabled people based on the assumption that they are “less than” their nondisabled peers—in research contributes to the exclusion of disabled scientists and suggests ways in which the scientific community can improve accessibility and promote the inclusion of disabled scientists in academic science.

Pfeifer, M. A., Cordero, J. J., & Dangremond Stanton, J. (2022). What I Wish My Instructor Knew: How Active Learning Influences the Classroom Experiences and Self-Advocacy of STEM Majors with ADHD and Specific Learning Disabilities. CBE—Life Sciences Education, 22(1). DOI: https://doi.org/10.1187/cbe.21-12-0329.

Our understanding of how active learning affects different groups of students is still developing. One group often overlooked in higher education research is students with disabilities. Two of the most commonly occurring disabilities on college campuses are attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and specific learning disorders (SLD). We investigated how the incorporation of active-learning practices influences the learning and self-advocacy experiences of students with ADHD and/or SLD (ADHD/SLD) in undergraduate science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) courses. Semistructured interviews were conducted with 25 STEM majors with ADHD/SLD registered with a campus disability resource center at a single university, and data were analyzed using qualitative methods. Participants described how they perceived active learning in their STEM courses to support or hinder their learning and how active learning affected their self-advocacy. Many of the active-learning barriers could be attributed to issues related to fidelity of implementation of a particular active-learning strategy and limited awareness of universal design for learning. Active learning was also reported to influence self-advocacy for some participants, and examples of self-advocacy in active-learning STEM courses were identified. Defining the supports and barriers perceived by students with ADHD/SLD is a crucial first step in developing more-inclusive active-learning STEM courses. Suggestions for research and teaching are provided.

Pfeifer, M. A., Reiter, E. M., Cordero, J. J., & Dangremond Stanton, J. (2021, June). Inside and Out: Factors That Support and Hinder the Self-Advocacy of Undergraduates with ADHD and/or Specific Learning Disabilities in STEM. CBE—Life Sciences Education, 20(2). https://doi.org/10.1187/cbe.20-06-0107.

Self-advocacy is linked to the success and retention of students with disabilities in college. Self-advocacy is defined as communicating individual wants, needs, and rights to determine and pursue required accommodations. While self-advocacy is linked to academic success, little is known about how students with disabilities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) practice self-advocacy. We previously developed a model of self-advocacy for STEM students with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and/or specific learning disabilities (SLD). Here, we use this model to examine what factors support or hinder self-advocacy in undergraduate STEM courses. We conducted semistructured interviews with 25 STEM majors with ADHD and/or SLD and used qualitative approaches to analyze our data. We found internal factors, or factors within a participant, and external factors, the situations and people, described by our participants, that influenced self-advocacy. These factors often interacted and functioned as a support or barrier, depending on the individuals and their unique experiences. We developed a model to understand how factors supported or hindered self-advocacy in STEM. Supporting factors contributed to a sense of comfort and security for our participants and informed their perceptions that accommodation use was accepted in a STEM course. We share implications for research and teaching based on our results.

Powder, J. (2023, February 27). How ableism holds back scientists–and science. Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Disability Headlines.

Until research is equitable and inclusive for people with disabilities—whether they’re scientists or trial participants—we won’t fully benefit from advances in science.

Ramiah, R., Godinho, L.,. & Wilson, C. (2022). Tertiary STEM for All: Enabling Student Success Through Teaching for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in STEM. International Journal of Innovation in Science and Mathematics Education, 30(3), 32-45. DOI: https://doi.org/10.30722/IJISME.30.03.003.

This position paper sets out the need and rationale for systemic change in STEM learning and teaching as a means of retaining and supporting the success of underrepresented cohorts in STEM. Efforts in recruiting and retaining these students in STEM higher education degrees and subsequently, STEM careers, will continue to be undermined, if we are unable to provide them with a supportive learning environment that recognises and mitigates the inherent disparities that they have historically faced and continue to face. We propose that rather than focusing on an individual equity group and how to best support them, which may lead to perpetuation of a deficit mindset for faculty, we instead propose a project that considers the biases inherent in our current pedagogical practices and the ways in which we can build awareness of the inequities that these entrench. We intend for the outcomes of this project to support the ongoing efforts for individual equity groups as well as mitigating against future inequities by empowering faculty to create inclusive learning experiences.

Reinholz, D. L., & Ridgway, S. W. (2021). Access needs: Centering students and disrupting ableist norms in STEM. CBE—Life Sciences Education, 20(3). DOI: https://doi.org/10.1187/cbe.21-01-0017.

This essay describes the concept of access needs as a tool for improving accessibility in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education broadly, from the classroom, to research group meetings, to professional conferences. The normalization of stating access needs and creating access check-ins is a regular practice used in disability justice activist circles, but it has not yet been normalized in STEM education spaces. Just as normalizing the use of pronouns has been an important step for supporting gender justice, we argue that normalizing access talk is an important step for advancing disability justice in STEM fields. Moreover, we argue that all individuals have access needs, regardless of whether they are disabled or nondisabled. We provide concrete suggestions and techniques that STEM educators can use today.

Reinholz, D., & Torres-Gerald, L. (2022, March 25). Sines of Disability: Disrupting Ableism in Mathematics and Beyond. Math Values [Blog]. Washington, DC: The Mathematical Association of America (MAA).

“When you think about a mathematician, what comes to mind? Do you think of a disabled person? If you’re following common stereotypes in society, almost certainly not. Although disability and mathematics have received a lot of attention in broader society, much of it has been negative attention…. Aside from…cultural references related to success in mathematics through overcoming disability, there are volumes of research that have been written about what disabled people can’t do in mathematics (Lambert & Tan, 2017), and there’s almost nothing of substance that describes disabled brilliance. That changes today, with the launch of Sines of Disability (www.sinesofdisability.com). We are a community of mathematicians, mathematics educators, and activists who are committed to disrupting ableism in mathematics and beyond.”

Reinholz, D. L., & Ridgway, S. W. (2021, Fall). Access needs: Centering students and disrupting ableist norms in STEM. CBE—Life Sciences Education, 20(3). DOI: https://doi.org/10.1187/cbe.21-01-0017.

This essay describes the concept of access needs as a tool for improving accessibility in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education broadly, from the classroom, to research group meetings, to professional conferences. The normalization of stating access needs and creating access check-ins is a regular practice used in disability justice activist circles, but it has not yet been normalized in STEM education spaces. Just as normalizing the use of pronouns has been an important step for supporting gender justice, we argue that normalizing access talk is an important step for advancing disability justice in STEM fields. Moreover, we argue that all individuals have access needs, regardless of whether they are disabled or nondisabled. We provide concrete suggestions and techniques that STEM educators can use today.

Riches, A. (2022, July 21). Taking pride in disability and geochemistry. OSF Preprint. DOI: https://doi.org/10.31219/osf.io/f87jk.

Exploration and personal story concerning disability inclusion in STEM with an emphasis on the field of Geochemistry. Written to celebrate and mark Disability pride month in 2022.

Robertson, A. D. (2023). Physics and ableism: One disabled physicist’s perspective. The Physics Teacher, 61, 156–157. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1119/5.0141424.

“In this article, I argue that mainstream physics epistemologies and physics teaching and learning practices reify ableism, augmenting the marginalization of disabled and chronically ill people in physics. I make this claim from my standpoint as a physicist who became disabled and chronically ill when I was 2 years old.”

Rudzki, E. N., & Kohl, K. D. (2023). Deficits in accessibility across field research stations for scientists with disabilities and/or chronic illness, and proposed solutions. Integrative and Comparative Biology, icad019. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/icb/icad019.

Equity and inclusivity in STEM research has become a larger topic of discussion in recent years, however researchers and scientists with disabilities and/or chronic illnesses are often missing from these conversations. Further, while field research is a major research component for some STEM disciplines, it is unclear what accessibility barriers or accommodations exist across the field sciences. Field research can sometimes involve harsh environments, topography, and weather, that present challenges to those with disabilities and/or chronic illnesses. A large and coinciding obstacle standing in the way of field research accessibility is the ableism present across science and academia, resulting in and from a lack of prioritization of attention and funding from universities and institutions. Biological field stations have been shown to be valuable not only as infrastructure for field-based research, but also as providing resources towards the scientific education of students and scientific outreach initiatives for the general public. As such, biological field stations are perfectly positioned to reduce barriers in research inclusion and accessibility for students and scientists with disabilities and/or chronic illnesses. The current work presents the results of a survey meant to inventory the presence or absence of accessible infrastructure across field stations, with responses spanning 6 countries and 24 USA states. Our results highlight a number of accessibility deficits, in areas such as accessible entrances, kitchens, and bathrooms. Our results suggest that (1) biological field stations have significant variability in accessibility with significant deficits especially in non-public-facing buildings used primarily by staff and researchers, and (2) field stations would benefit from an increase in federal funding opportunities to expedite their progress towards compliance with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards. We propose potential solutions to field work infrastructure spanning a range of financial costs, with emphasis on the point that efforts towards accessibility do not require an “all or nothing” approach, and that any step towards accessibility will make field stations more inclusive. Additionally, we further suggest that federal funding sources, such as the NSF and NIH, as well as university leadership, should consider broadening diversity initiatives to promote the continuation of, and increased accessibility of, university-affiliated field stations.

Rutkofske, J. E., Pavlis, T. L., & Ramirez, S. (2022, August). Applications of modern digital mapping systems to assist inclusion of persons with disabilities in geoscience education and research. Journal of Structural Geology, 161, 104655. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsg.2022.104655.

New and emerging technologies are changing the world as we know it, and how we choose to perform geologic fieldwork is changing as well. Recent developments in
hardware and software provide unprecedented opportunities not only for conventional field studies but also for persons traditionally exempt from field-related
research because of mobility issues or inability to travel. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) first allowed digital geologic mapping in the field, and these sys-
tems remain in widespread use because of ease of use and ease of data duplication for collaboration in work teams or field classes. We present a general 2D workflow
based on GIS approaches that affords opportunities for physically disadvantaged individuals that includes cognitive steps driven by the data assembly process in GIS.
Most notable is the digitization of linework and exploration of an area with Google Earth Pro (GEP) as steps, outside the field, that allow assessment of an area to
formulate hypotheses that can be done by a physically disadvantaged person as well, or better, than those physically capable of field exploration. We then explore
emerging technologies including pseudo-3D viewing using image drapes on an elevation model (aka 2.5D method) and true 3D approaches based on Structure-from-
Motion photogrammetry that provide a powerful toolbox back at the office or at base camp that does not require physical abilities or direct field access. These 3D
tools are potentially transformative for mobility impaired individuals that could allow them to work individually, or as part of a team, to assess field related problems.
For all 3 levels of digital mapping (2D, 2.5D and 3D) we emphasize specific workflows designed to help the researcher perform digital geologic mapping with a
specific focus on individuals with limited mobility. Some or all of what we suggest here, however, is of benefit to any field geologist and can be used to augment, or
completely perform field studies.

Sarju, J. P. (2021, June). Nothing about us without us – Towards genuine inclusion of disabled scientists and science students post pandemic. Chemistry: A European Journal, 27, 10489-10494. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/chem.202100268

Scientists and students with disabilities have been severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and this must be urgently addressed to avoid further entrenching existing inequalities. The need for rapid decision-making, often by senior colleagues without lived experience of disabilities, can lead to policies which discriminate against scientists with disabilities. This article reflects on disability declaration statistics and research in critical disability studies and social science to explore the challenges experienced by disabled scientists before and during the COVID-19 pandemic and highlights recommendations and examples of good practice to adopt in order to challenge ableism in STEM communities and work-places. It is vital that disabled staff and students are fully involved in decision making. This is particularly important as we continue to respond to the challenges and opportunities associated with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and plan for a post-COVID-19 future. This time of great change can be used as an opportunity to listen, learn, and improve working conditions and access for scientists with disabilities, and by doing so, for everyone.

Schneiderwind, J., & Johnson, J. M. (2020). Disability and Invisibility in STEM Education. Journal of Higher Education Theory & Practice, 20(14). 101-104. DOI: https://doi.org/10.33423/jhetp.v20i14.3854

Across STEM fields, the education system continues to “weed out” students from non-dominant communities. Most studies on the damaging effects of underrepresentation focus on minorities or women in STEM fields. We examine some of the research about students with disabilities and note the limited literature on this subject. University enrollment by students with disabilities has increased in the last two decades while the amount of corresponding research published has decreased. This issue should not be siloed to disability studies — it is one that must be recognized by all educators. We conclude with some practical suggestions on how to move forward.

Shifrer, D. & Mackin Freeman, D. (2021). Problematizing perceptions of STEM potential: Differences by cognitive disability status in high school and postsecondary educational outcomes. Socius: Sociological Research for a Dynamic World, 7, 1-13. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/2378023121998116

The STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) potential of youth with cognitive disabilities is often dismissed through problematic perceptions of STEM ability as natural and of youth with cognitive disabilities as unable. National data on more than 15,000 adolescents from the High School Longitudinal Study of 2009 first suggest that, among youth with disabilities, youth with medicated attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have the highest levels of STEM achievement, and youth with learning or intellectual disabilities typically have the lowest. Undergraduates with medicated ADHD or autism appear to be more likely to major in STEM than youth without cognitive disabilities, and youth with autism have the most positive STEM attitudes. Finally, results suggest that high school STEM achievement is more salient for college enrollment than STEM-positive attitudes across youth with most disability types, whereas attitudes are more salient than achievement for choosing a STEM major.

Sum, C. M., Alharbi, R., Spektor, F., Bennett, C. L., Harrington, C., Spiel, K., & Williams, R. M. (2022). Dreaming Disability Justice in HCI. In CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems Extended Abstracts (CHI ’22 Extended Abstracts), April 29-
May 5, 2022, New Orleans, LA, USA. ACM, New York, NY, USA. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1145/3491101.3503731.

While disability studies and social justice-oriented research is growing in prominence in HCI, these approaches tend to only bring attention to oppression under a single identity axis (e.g. race-only, gender-only, disability-only, etc.). Using a single-axis framework neglects to recognize people’s complex identities and how ableism overlaps with other forms of oppression including classism, racism, sexism, colonialism, among others. As a result, HCI and assistive technology research may not always attend to the complex lived experiences of disabled people. In this one-day workshop, we position disability justice as a framework that centers the needs and expertise of disabled people towards more equitable HCI and assistive technology research. We will discuss harmful biases in existing research and seek to distill strategies for researchers to better support disabled people in the design (and dismantling) of future technologies.

Todd, W. F., Atchison, C. L., & White, L. D. (2022). Amplifying the voices of diverse scholars to integrate culture in the Earth sciences. Journal of Geoscience Education Online Before Print. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/10899995.2022.2140276.

“The representation of diverse scholars from various ethnic, cultural, and ability groups in the Earth sciences is critically low exhibiting a crucial need and an opportunity to not only increase diversity but also to create agency for diverse scholars (Bowser & Cid, 2021). These needs can be effectively accomplished through the development of innovative strategies that focus on damaging policies, practices, and opinions prevalent within academia as it struggles and create equitable spaces for all to feel supported and welcome (Guillory & Wolverton, 2008; Smythe et al., 2020). VOICES of Integrating Culture in the Earth Sciences (VOICES) is a collaborative program dedicated to identifying persistent issues preventing the retention, representation, and recruitment of all racial, ethnic, and cultural groups currently underrepresented in the Earth sciences. Here we define with intention diverse scholars as those historically underrepresented, as a construct of ableism, gender, sexuality, cultural, and racial identities using asset-based language to capture the intersection of these complex identities (Gomez et al., 2021; Steele, 1997; Steele & Aronson, 1995)” (p. 1).

Vasquez, K. (2020, December). Excluded from the lab. Chemistry World [Website}.  

Inaccessibility continues to push disabled scientists out of science.

Zongrone, C., & McCall, C. J., & Paretti, M. C., & Shew, A., & Simmons, D. R., & McNair, L. D. (2021, January), “I’m Looking at You, You’re a Perfectly Good Person …”: Describing Non-Apparent Disability in Engineering. Paper presented at 2021 CoNECD, Virtual – 1pm to 5pm Eastern Time Each Day. https://peer.asee.org/36059

In recent years, studies in engineering education have begun to intentionally integrate disability into discussions of diversity, inclusion, and equity. To broaden and advocate for the participation of this group in engineering, researchers have identified a variety of factors that have kept people with disabilities at the margins of the field. Such factors include the underrepresentation of disabled individuals within research and industry (Spingola, 2018); systemic and personal barriers (Pearson Weatherton et al., 2017; Phillips & Pearson, 2018), and sociocultural expectations within and beyond engineering education-related contexts (Groen-McCall et al., 2018a). These findings provide a foundational understanding of the external and environmental influences that can shape how students with disabilities experience higher education, develop a sense of belonging, and ultimately form professional identities as engineers (Reference removed for review; Kimball et al., 2015).

Zurn, P., Stramondo, J., Reynolds, J. M., & Bassett, D. S. (2022, December). Expanding Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion to Disability: Opportunities for Biological Psychiatry. Biological Psychiatry: CNNI, 7(12),1280-1288. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bpsc.2022.08.008.

Given its subject matter, biological psychiatry is uniquely poised to lead STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) initiatives related to disability. Drawing on literatures in science, philosophy, psychiatry, and disability studies, we outline how that leadership might be undertaken. We first review existing opportunities for the advancement of DEI in biological psychiatry around axes of gender and race. We then explore the expansion of biological psychiatry’s DEI efforts to disability, especially along the lines of representation and access, community accountability, first-person testimony, and revised theoretical frameworks for pathology. We close with concrete recommendations for scholarship and practice going forward. By tackling head-on the challenge of disability inclusion, biological psychiatry has the opportunity to be a force of transformation in the biological sciences and beyond.