STEM and Accessibility Advocate Exercise

Scenario One

Louis, an early-stage Masters student with a strong academic background and an interest in your field, is assigned to work in your laboratory for the summer. Louis was born with one arm. He can relatively easily perform common daily tasks, such as opening a bottle or tying a shoelace, one-handed.

  1. Think about your physical lab space. What tasks might you want to discuss with Louis, to find adaptations or workarounds? (i.e. what tasks or equipment might present difficulty on first consideration?)
  2. Spend a few minutes researching common one-handed adaptations. (not necessarily in a scientific context.) How might some of these be applied in the lab? Would any of these help others in your lab (not necessarily with disabilities)?
  3. What other challenges (social, physical, or otherwise) might Louis face in your lab or working group if he joined today? Try to err on the side of being realistic and pragmatic.

Scenario Two

Iolana is a visually-impaired undergraduate considering entering your field. She has a small amount of vision, enough to navigate in high-visibility situations and to see large or magnified letters on a screen. She tells you she uses a screen reader called JAWS to do work on her computer.

You are teaching a class that uses a digital platform from your field. (Your choice.) Iolana has been assigned a helper for your class from Accessibility Services on campus, but would like to learn the software for her professional development. She tends to be good with comptuers and up on the latest techniques, but she is not a programmer or highly technical.

  1. Take a few minutes to look up accessibility for your platform. What's your initial assessment of its accessibility for screen reader users? How easy or hard was it to find this information?
  2. If your platform seems like it might have issues for accessibility, what steps would you take (in the immediate case or in the short term) to help Iolana in the course?
  3. Consider any issues for accessibility related to your platform. How could you advocate (in a larger or less immediate sense) for greater accessibility on this platform? In your course? In your field?