Making STEM Departments More Accessible to and Inclusive of Faculty with Disabilities

Brianna Blaser, DO-IT Staff

AccessADVANCE has released a publication titled Equal Access: Making STEM Departments More Accessible to and Inclusive of Faculty with Disabilities developed in collaboration with faculty with disabilities and equity experts. The publication offers strategies for systemic changes that will increase the successful participation and advancement of women with disabilities in STEM faculty careers.

Institutions are urged to consider:

  • Does the department and campus ensure that new hires and other faculty are aware of the workplace accommodation process? Is the process clearly explained on faculty and public websites? Does this information include examples of accommodations provided? Does it encourage suggestions for making a department more inclusive?
  • Is there a campus-supported organization that supports faculty with disabilities by facilitating communication, networking, support, and advocacy?
  • Does the institution offer opportunities and strategies for faculty members to learn about and negotiate accommodations?
  • Are there flexible policies that allow individuals to attend meetings and work remotely? Are important meetings captioned, recorded, and shared for those who cannot attend or wish to watch them at a later time?
  • Is it made clear to faculty (perhaps in a faculty handbook or website) how they can request guidance in choosing assistive technology (perhaps through the central accessible IT unit)? Are central funds available for faculty members to procure assistive technology?
  • Are accommodations approved and funded efficiently through a central institutional unit and budget so departments avoid the appearance that individual faculty members with disabilities are a financial burden? Are service units agile in their responses and do they consider requests that go beyond minimum compliance to consider funding for such things as teaching and research assistants, release time, summer months, and additional sabbatical credit for faculty with disabilities?