Making STEM accessible to disabled people

Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) can be considered to be at the basis of modern society, making it essential that they are fully accessible to disabled people.  However, relatively limited attention has been given to STEM accessibility compared to many other subjects and there are still significant barriers to be overcome.   Particular issues include, but are not restricted to, difficulties in representating notation and formulae in an accessible format, reading images and graphs and making both virtual and real laboratories and field work accessible.  Negative attitudes and misconceptions about what disabled people cannot do also act as barriers and concerns about health and safety issues are sometimes used as a pretext to exclude disabled people.  There is also a need to avoid learning aims which cause difficulties for some groups of disabled people, such as being able to draw graphs on paper rather than analyse the results of graphs produced by software. 

This session will discuss the full range of issues associated with making STEM accessible, with a particular focus on the role of assistive technology and tools designed to support accessibility.

Papers are welcome on the following, amongst other topics:

  • Case studies of interventions
  • Recommendations for good practice
  • Involving disabled learners, teachers and researchers
  • New assistive and learning technologies
  • The role of technology and other approaches
  • Strategies to avoid
  • Pedagogical issues and learning objectives
  • Making field work and/or practical classes accessible
  • Making formulae, equations and terminology accessible
  • Making graphs and images accessible
  • Virtual laboratories and simulation environments
  • Software for analysis and statistics software
  • Accessibility issues and strategies for scientific digital contents and eBooks

In case you are interested and want to submit an abstract to this session, please contact: Dr Marion Hersh,  University of Glasgow Scotland, marion.hersh (at) or Dr Barbara Leporini, ISTI – CNR, Italy, barbara.leporini (at)