“Of course our building is accessible—there is only one small step to get inside.”
Creating Spaces for Geoscientists with Disabilities to Thrive, an article co-written by Sean Thatcher and Anita M. Marshall is part 1 of a series produced in collaboration with AGU’s Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Committee to highlight perspectives from underrepresented communities in the geosciences.
Nearly a quarter of the population has some form of disability. In the geosciences, when we fail to account for the policies and cultures that isolate and exclude people with disabilities, we continue to send the message to more than 20% of the population that geoscience careers may not be a welcoming place for them. We need to become more aware of the challenges that people with disabilities face within the geosciences and work to dismantle those barriers in our classrooms, research groups, departments, and the scientific community at large. Disability presents across all demographics, making it an important, yet still often overlooked piece of the diversity puzzle. Creating a better path for participation for disabled geoscientists will open opportunities across all underrepresented groups.
Physical barriers to participation in geoscience activities exist everywhere [Carabajal et al., 2017]. Buildings on campus may include inaccessible laboratories and restrooms, hidden or out-of-the-way ramps, and freight elevators that look like something from a horror movie. These issues are often more common in geoscience departments, which tend to be located in some of the oldest buildings on campus and are often exempt from accessibility requirements under the Americans with Disabilities Act.