The Digital Lab

An increasingly critical aspect of any lab includes running simulations or analyzing data, tasks performed using a variety of digital platforms and programming environments. Unfortunately, not all digital platforms are accessible to students with disabilities.


The Python scientific stack is increasingly popular in a STEM context. However, currently, Jupyter Lab and Jupyter Notebooks are not accessible for visually impaired practitioners or students. Google Colab, Google's adaptation of Jupyter Notebooks, is accessible with screen readers, and may provide an alternative. Alternatively, practitioners and students can write Python code in Visual Studio Code and run it in the command line.


While RStudio Desktop cannot currently be recommended for screen reader users, the web version is largely accessible. See this page for RStudio Screen Reader advice.


While there is little documentation on practical use of matlab with a screen reader, mathworks has an updated accessibility statement that suggests improvements have recently been made to accessibility on the platform. using the web version of matlab using nvda on windows with google chrome is recommended.

assisting students or colleagues who use keyboard navigation or screen readers with platforms for scientific data analysis can be frustrating. Consider taking a transational approach, with you as the domain expert in the tool and the student as a domain expert in the adaptive technology. If you work with a student with disabilities, consider contacting developers or creating issues, which can be critical for raising awareness of accessibility in stem and stem education.