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Creating a Culture of Accessibility in the Sciences - 1st Edition - ISBN: 9780128040379, 9780128040867

Creating a Culture of Accessibility in the Sciences

1st Edition

Authors: Mahadeo Sukhai Chelsea Mohler
Paperback ISBN: 9780128040379
eBook ISBN: 9780128040867
Imprint: Academic Press
Published Date: 28th November 2016
Page Count: 348
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Creating a Culture of Accessibility in the Sciences provides insights and advice on integrating students with disabilities into the STEM fields. Each chapter features research and best practices that are interwoven with experiential narratives.

The book is reflective of the diversity of STEM disciplines (life and physical sciences, engineering, and mathematics), and is also reflective of cross-disability perspectives (physical, sensory, learning, mental health, chronic medical and developmental disabilities).

It is a useful resource for STEM faculty and university administrators working with students with disabilities, as well as STEM industry professionals interested in accommodating employees with disabilities.

Key Features

  • Offers a global perspective on making research or work spaces accessible for students with disabilities in the STEM fields
  • Discusses best practices on accommodating and supporting students and demonstrates how these practices can be translated across disciplines
  • Enhances faculty knowledge of inclusive teaching practices, adaptive equipment, accessibility features, and accommodations in science laboratories, which would enable the safe participation of students with disabilities
  • Provides advice for students with disabilities on disclosure and mentoring


University faculty, academic administrators, disability office staff, students with disabilities, and industry professionals in STEM and related disciplines. Additional markets include related academic and professional organizations as well as those involved in professional development training and workshops

Table of Contents

  • Dedication
  • Epigraph
  • List of Contributors
  • About the Authors
  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction
    • A framework for dialog around disability and the sciences
  • Part I: Students with Disabilities in the Sciences
    • 1. The landscape for students with disabilities in the sciences
      • Abstract
      • Introduction
      • Some key terms
      • Exclusive, segregated, integrated, and inclusive education
      • Differences between undergraduate and graduate laboratory environments
      • Work in the Academic Environment
      • Participation of students with disabilities in the sciences
      • Glass ceilings in the STEM training pipeline
      • What is a “culture of accessibility?”
      • Definition of practical space environments
      • Application of best practices across disciplines
      • Previous forays in accessibility and STEM
      • Conclusion
    • 2. Accessibility in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics—the global perspective
      • Abstract
      • Introduction
      • Accessibility of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education: a human-rights framework
      • United National convention on the rights of persons with disabilites
      • Higher education in the context of the global landscape of disability rights legislation
      • Cultural perspectives about disability
      • Science as an international endeavor
      • Conclusion
  • Part II: Barriers Faced by Students with Disabilities in the Sciences
    • 3. Barriers faced by students with disabilities in science laboratory and practical space settings
      • Abstract
      • Introduction
      • Occupational choice
      • Lack of professional development for service providers and educators
      • Structural differences in student support systems between high school and postsecondary education
      • Student awareness of support systems in postsecondary
      • Student engagement with support systems in the educational setting
      • Lack of access to assistive technologies
      • Adapting mainstream technologies
      • Universal access to scientific materials
      • Availability of accessible formats
      • Logistical considerations in the lab and classroom
      • Self-advocacy
      • Support network advocacy
      • Attitudes
      • Competing priorities in education
      • The “gatekeeper function”
      • Conclusion
    • 4. Student perspectives on disability—impact on education, career path, and accommodation
      • Abstract
      • Introduction
      • “What could they do for me?”
      • “Ignorance is bliss”
      • “Raising the bar”
      • “There is always a Way, it’s just a matter of finding it”
      • “Easier said than done”
      • “Did my opinion matter?”
      • “Not being good enough”
      • “Knowledge is preparedness”
      • “Disability is not something to be ashamed of”
      • “What could have been?”
      • Conclusion
    • 5. Key role of education providers in communication with students and service providers
      • Abstract
      • Introduction
      • First contact: how faculty find out students with disabilities are in their courses
      • Faculty responsibilities around communication and content delivery
      • Scope of the teaching team
      • Some typical situations
      • Conclusion
  • Part III: Student as Educator
    • 6. Disclosure in the sciences
      • Abstract
      • Introduction
      • Definition of disclosure
      • Disclosure of accommodation need vs. disclosure of disability
      • Process of disclosure
      • The choice to disclose
      • Self-advocacy and disclosure
      • What students should know prior to disclosure
      • Timing of disclosure
      • A rubric for disclosure
      • Identifying the right players
      • Impact of disability types on disclosure
      • Pros and cons of disclosure
      • Implications of disclosure in laboratory and practical space environments
      • Other factors affecting disclosure
      • Conclusion
    • 7. Student as ACTor—recognizing the importance of advocacy, communication, and trailblazing to student success in STEM
      • Abstract
      • Introduction
      • Student as advocate
      • Student as communicator
      • Student as trailblazer
      • Steps for a successful secondary school to postsecondary transition
      • Conclusion
    • 8. Mental health and well-being for students with disabilities in the sciences
      • Abstract
      • Introduction
      • The stress of being a trailblazer
      • Impostor syndrome
      • Stress of disclosure, accommodation, and disability management
      • Disability and the stresses of STEM training
      • Recognizing signs of stress
      • Strategies to improve well-being and maintain balance
      • Conclusion
    • 9. Peer-support networks
      • Abstract
      • Introduction
      • Why is peer support important?
      • What is peer support?
      • Types of peer support
      • Benefits of having a peer-support network
      • Potential challenges in having or maintaining a peer-support network
      • Operational issues: ensuring effective peer support
      • Peer support versus peer mentorship
      • Peer support: the beginning of the conversation
      • Where do we find our peers?
      • Virtual (long-distance) peer support
      • Peer support outside disability
      • Conclusion
  • Part IV: Student as Learner
    • 10. Essential requirements and academic accommodations in the sciences
      • Abstract
      • Introduction: what is an essential requirement?
      • Measurement of essential requirements
      • Importance of essential requirements
      • Essential requirements and the evolution of the sciences
      • Relationship between essential requirements and accommodation
      • Conversations around essential requirements and accommodations
      • Reasonable accommodation and undue hardship
      • The “gatekeeper function”
      • Mythbusting accommodations and essential requirements
      • Essential requirements in STEM environments
      • Conclusion
    • 11. Universal design for learning
      • Abstract
      • Introduction
      • Barriers to learning
      • Principles of universal design for learning
      • Applying UDL to the learning environment
      • The role of technology in implementing UDL
      • UDL and the need for accommodation
      • Conclusion
    • 12. Inclusive teaching practices
      • Abstract
      • Introduction
      • Principles of inclusion
      • Identifying implicit expectations and making them explicit
      • Approaches to developing inclusive teaching practices
      • Principles of effective accommodation
      • Conclusion
  • Part V: Students as Mentees, Trainees, and Leaders
    • 13. Faculty mentorship of students with disabilities in the sciences
      • Abstract
      • Introduction
      • The importance of mentorship in STEM
      • What is mentorship?
      • Mentors can be people with or without disabilities
      • Forms of mentorship
      • Qualities of a good mentor
      • Benefits of becoming a mentor
      • Selecting a good mentor
      • Conclusion
    • 14. Faculty supervision of students with disabilities in the sciences
      • Abstract
      • Introduction
      • The foundation of the student–supervisor relationship
      • Disability, disclosure, and the student–supervisor relationship
      • Quality of the student–supervisor relationship
      • Deterioration in the student–supervisor relationship
      • Clarifying expectations in the student–supervisor relationship
      • Students in crisis
      • Supervisor’s knowledge of and/or willingness to participate in disability-related processes
      • The role of the supervisor’s knowledge of the interface between essential requirements and academic accommodations
      • At the interface of research integrity and accommodations: authorship issues
      • Supervisors may assist students with academic and social integration
      • Boundary issues
      • Funding issues
      • Delegated supervision
      • Conclusion
    • 15. The student in a leadership, mentorship, and supervision role
      • Abstract
      • Introduction
      • Disability management and nontraditional learning environments
      • Employment for students in STEM graduate programs
      • Widening the circle: disclosure when the student is not in a traditional learning environment
      • Identifying accommodation needs in nontraditional learning environments
      • Achievement of necessary competencies
      • Stress and nontraditional learning environments
      • Student as trailblazer
      • The student’s lived experience with disability—impact on perspectives
      • Conclusion
    • 16. Leveraging professional development and networking opportunities
      • Abstract
      • Introduction
      • Types of networking opportunities
      • Disability-specific structured professional networking activities
      • Networking through conferences, career events, and symposia
      • Peer networks and collaborations
      • Informational interviews
      • Creating your own portfolio of networking opportunities
      • Framing disability in networking
      • Defining your personal story or brand and its impact on networking
      • Receptivity of your network
      • Conclusion
  • Part VI: Accommodating Students With Disabilities in the Sciences
    • 17. Accommodating students with disabilities in science laboratories and in fieldwork
      • Abstract
      • Introduction
      • Teaching practices, supports, and accommodations
      • Activities in a teaching lab setting in the sciences
      • Accommodation in the graduate research laboratory
      • Accommodation in the fieldwork setting
      • Discussing accommodations in the science lab or fieldwork settings
      • Conclusion
    • 18. Human accommodation—laboratory/technical assistants in the sciences
      • Abstract
      • Introduction
      • The essential requirements argument
      • Does technical assistance provide an “unfair advantage?”
      • Does technical assistance provide the student “too much help?”
      • Is technical assistance “unrealistic?”
      • Does technical assistance mean the credit belongs to the assistant?
      • Is technical assistance too expensive?
      • Does the student gain the appropriate learning from having a technical assistant?
      • When to utilize technical assistance?
      • Finding an appropriate technical assistant
      • Conclusion
    • 19. Mainstream technology as accessibility solutions in the science lab
      • Abstract
      • Introduction
      • Case Study #1: Using robotics to handle small volumes in a biological sciences research lab
      • Case Study #2: Microscope slide scanners in anatomy, histology, or physiology teaching labs
      • Case Study #3: Universal design in the lab—computer-aided instrumentation in a physics laboratory
      • Case Study #4: Adaptive technology brought mainstream
      • Case Study #5: Mainstream technology adapted for accessibility
      • Case Study #6: Accessible mainstream technology solutions—build with universal design principles in mind
      • Case Study #7: Low-tech solutions
      • Determining the best technology solution for a student with a disability
      • Student considerations
      • Engineering custom technology solutions: the need for a knowledge base
      • Conclusion
    • 20. Assistive technology
      • Abstract
      • Introduction
      • What is assistive technology?
      • Barriers to accessing assistive technology
      • Assistive technology in the laboratory setting
      • Meeting the challenges
      • Conclusion
    • 21. Accessible formats in science and technology disciplines
      • Abstract
      • Introduction
      • What are print disabilities?
      • What are accessible formats?
      • Accessible format materials and technologies
      • Challenges with accessing accessible formats in the classroom setting
      • Accessing accessible format materials in the laboratory setting
      • Tips for making accessible formats accessible in the classroom and laboratory
      • Accessibility and online learning environments
      • The Marrakesh Treaty
      • Conclusion
    • 22. Simulation learning
      • Abstract
      • Introduction
      • Virtual learning in the sciences
      • Simulations and learning styles
      • Considerations when applying simulation learning to the sciences
      • Simulation learning and accessibility
      • Simulation learning as accommodation
      • Simulation learning as a course/program component
      • Simulation learning in postsecondary education
      • Conclusion
    • 23. Physical access in science laboratories
      • Abstract
      • Introduction
      • Considerations for physical accessibility in science labs
      • Universal design and physical accessibility of science laboratories
      • Best practices
      • Accessibility and safety
      • Conclusion
  • Part VII: Synthesis
    • 24. Practicum placements
      • Abstract
      • Introduction: overview of practicums
      • Review of relevant legislation and duties to accommodation
      • Introduction to the practicum accommodations process model
      • Contextual considerations
      • Partnerships required for successful practicum placement learning for students with accommodations
      • Practicum accommodations process
      • Considerations and strategies for successful provision of practicum accommodations
      • Student accommodations
      • Considerations for national and international practicums
      • Conclusion
    • 25. General principles of designing accessible learning environments in the sciences
      • Abstract
      • Introduction
      • Practical spaces revisited
      • Differences between practical spaces and traditional science laboratories
      • Case study: Practical spaces in occupational and physical therapy
      • Case study: Archival spaces
      • The diversity of practical spaces in STEM education
      • Guiding principles for designing accessible learning environments in STEM
      • Overview of universal design principles
      • Flexibility
      • Dynamism
      • Collaboration
      • Fostering positive relationships
      • Does not contravene academic or professional rigor
      • Encompasses the many faces of a student in STEM
      • Conclusion
  • Conclusion: STEM and disability—a vision for the future
  • Bibliography
  • Index


No. of pages:
© Academic Press 2017
28th November 2016
Academic Press
Paperback ISBN:
eBook ISBN:

About the Authors

Mahadeo Sukhai

University of Toronto and Ontario Cancer Institute, Toronto, ON, Canada

Affiliations and Expertise

Research Fellow and Team Leader, University Health Network, Princess Margaret Hospital, Ontario Cancer Institute, Toronto, ON, Canada

Chelsea Mohler

National Educational Association of Disabled Students, Ottawa, ON, Canada

Affiliations and Expertise

Research Consultant, National Educational Association of Disabled Students, Ottawa, ON, Canada

Ratings and Reviews