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Thursday, June 19 • 3:00pm - 3:50pm
CON7.04 – Creating an Accessible Science Laboratory Environment for Students with Disabilities (Room A239)

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Many of the growing STEM-based careers in today’s changing economy require at least the completion of a first year university chemistry course. As opportunities in technical and medical fields continue to grow, all students—including persons with disabilities—need strong educations in science, in order to achieve their career goals.

Students with disabilities are not well represented in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. Perceived and actual barriers play a large role in deterring students with disabilities from pursuing careers in the sciences. Obstacles experienced by these students often include: a lack of mentors in the field; inaccessible laboratories and course material; negative attitudes of instructors and others in the educational setting; and, a knowledge gap about how to instruct a student with a disability.

To address these barriers, and to create a unique, comprehensive resource for faculty and instructors to use in planning and implementing accessible science laboratory environments at all levels of post-secondary education, we undertook a multi-pronged research approach. This approach included a detailed review of the academic and grey literature, as well as key informant interviews with faculty, service providers and representatives of scientific professional societies/associations. We reviewed the major elements of enhancing the accessibility of science labs in graduate and undergraduate education, irrespective of discipline.

This presentation will focus on our research findings and the unique series of resources we have assembled to aid faculty and instructors in enhancing the accessibility of science labs on campus. In particular, while the literature has previously focused predominantly on physical accessibility concerns, we will highlight the importance of creating a culture of accessibility within the sciences, and present an inclusive accessibility framework that is designed to ameliorate physical, attitudinal, technological and communication barriers in the sciences.

Throughout this presentation, participants will have opportunities to engage with the presenters and other participants by sharing their experiences in accommodating students with disabilities in the sciences, and discuss strategies implemented in the science laboratory.


Thursday June 19, 2014 3:00pm - 3:50pm EDT
A239 McArthur Hall

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