Paper No. 9
Presentation Time: 10:00 AM


LIBARKIN, Julie, Geocognition Research Laboratory, 206 Natural Science, East Lansing, MI 48824 and ATCHISON, Christopher L., Department of Geosciences, Georgia State University, P. O. Box 4105, Atlanta, GA 30302,

Programs to engage disabled students in science fields lag behind those for other groups. Most geoscientists do not fully understand the needs and capabilities of students with disabilities, and may not recognize that accommodating a few students can enhance learning for all students. Some people still hold the conception that those with physical or mental differences cannot be fully participating members of society, perhaps inhibiting people with disabilities from disclosing their needs, fearing rejection or stereotyping.

To assess the climate of access in the geosciences for students with disabilities, this study sought to obtain scientist perspectives of accessibility in the geosciences through two separate iterations of surveys collected from attendees (n=72 and n=148) at two professional geosciences meeting in 2011 and 2012. Respondents were asked to indicate the extent to which individuals with specific types of impairments would or would not be able to engage in geoscientific careers.

The information obtained in these surveys provide an initial step in engaging the larger geoscience community in a real discussion of the access that can and should be made to engage and include students and professionals with disabilities. The results imply that the majority of the geoscience community believes that opportunities exist for inclusion, regardless of disability. Additionally, with new and innovative technologies, accommodations are being made to reduce barriers to field-based research. This presentation will discuss the common geoscientist perspectives of accessibility in geoscience discipline and how these results might impact the future of inclusion to geoscience instruction for students with disabilities.