When people walk into a building, they assume they will be able to open doors, walk upstairs to get to the next level, go to the toilet when needed. Unfortunately, disabled people cannot make these assumptions in many buildings, even modern ones. Buildings that house facilities that address more technical needs such as laboratories are often even more inaccessible. This lack of access means there are too few disabled scientists in labs today. Whilst approximately 20% of working age adults have a disability, only around 3.8% of UK academics working in science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM) are disabled.

About The Accessible Laboratories Project

We believe scientists who are deaf, disabled or who have long-term illnesses should be able to work in laboratory settings. We think that this aspect of diversity is currently often overlooked. There are solvable barriers to working in labs and these negatively impact on the diversity of the scientists working in labs. This lack of diversity reduces the quality and relevance of the science being done.

How you can get involved:

If you are a disabled scientist that has worked in a laboratory (now or in the past), or you have an interest in making labs accessible we would love for you to complete our survey. It will ask about how to design accessible labs, and choose the right furniture and equipment. We want to find out how to adapt lab protocols, equipment, working practices, training, and culture to ensure maximum accessibility. We know that lab work needs to be shared with the world, so we will also ask about how to ensure consultations, conferences, publications, and web pages are also accessible.

Here is the link to access the survey: https://www.uea.ac.uk/web/groups-and-centres/projects/access-all-areas-in-labs

All enquiries about this project can be directed to Dr Katherine Deane, Access Ambassador at the University of East Anglia k.deane@uea.ac.uk

We are also conducting interviews with anyone willing to discuss an access solution. Again, please contact Dr Katherine Deane if you would be interested in participating in this.

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