Initial Findings on the Accessibility and Inclusion of Geoscience Laboratories

Monday 4:30pm-6:00pm SERC Building - Atrium | Poster #2
Poster Session Part of Monday Poster Session


Mandy Abel-Zurstadt, Central Washington University

Disabled geoscience students can encounter various barriers to fieldwork and laboratory research, and thus completion of a degree. Fortunately, these barriers are beginning to be addressed. For example, field camps have been researched and redesigned to increase accessibility to those with a wide range of disabilities. However, geoscience-specific laboratories have not been targeted in a similar fashion. This study, designed as a capstone project for Central Washington University's Accessibility Studies Program, will collect data over the summer of 2024 from online student surveys and virtual laboratory audits. Audits will assess physical spaces for compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and for Universal Design elements. A survey was created to ask geoscience students who have disabilities about their experiences with laboratory accessibility. Findings will help illustrate the current quality of disability-based inclusion within the geoscience laboratory. Further, accessibility blind spots commonly found and/or experienced across the study group may be revealed. Addressing these general or specific access problems would go a long way to improve d/Disabled students' laboratory experiences and ensure more equitable opportunities in the geosciences.