In a recent guest post on SciLogs, Rebecca Tripp writes about her experience working as a scientist and finding ways to engage in rigorous canopy biology fieldwork with paralysis in her lower body. She writes that after she and others had assumed her work in the world would be "done from behind a desk," people with different ideas on accessible science changed her mind.
Tripp describes an internship at Baker University in Kansas that recruited science students with ambulatory disabilities. From the piece:
I spent that summer climbing trees, using ropes and a harness, and collecting microscopic organisms to study later on in the lab. It turned out to be a life-changing 10 weeks, and it got me thinking: How can we, as a society, promote more opportunities like this? How do we motivate employers, teachers, scientists, etc., to broaden their horizons and make the sciences more inclusive? How do we encourage the disabled community to participate in these opportunities?
When we begin excluding people due to their physical, mental or developmental limitations, we suffer as a society, and we miss out on potentially valuable contributions to science. There have been many technological advancements over the years that make life easier for all of us, and we should be utilizing these tools to promote a scientifically literate global community, to which everyone can contribute.
Science communicators, many of whom are scientists themselves, are perfectly positioned to play a prominent role in initiating change.
Previously: Using personal robots to overstep disability and In motion: Accessible Icon Project moves forward