Conference Schedule:

All times are listed in ET

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 12

STRAND A: EDUCATORS, STUDENTS, AND OUTREACH

STRAND B: RESEARCHERS, PROFESSIONALS, AND THE WORKPLACE

9:00-9:10

Welcome Address by Conference Director Anna Voelker

9:10-9:40

LightSound: Accessibility for the 2023 and 2024 Solar Eclipses, Allyson Bieryla & Sóley Hyman

9:10-9:40

Autism In Color, Senay Daniel

9:40-9:55

Speech-to-Braille in Real Time in the STEM Classroom, Lisa Vogt

9:40-9:55

See3D: Growing and Adapting our 3D Printing Distribution Organization, Athena Wrenn

10-minute break

10:05-10:35

Unconscious Bias in STEM Education, Training and Research: How to recognize it, and what to do about it, Mahadeo Sukhai & Ainsley Latour

10:05-10:35

DisabledInSTEM: Inclusive and Accessible Science Communication, Alyssa Paparella

10:35-10:50

Who was the Famous Deaf Scientist?, Gabriel Arellano

10:35-10:50

Understanding Diversity and Promoting Equity in Astronomy, Stefania Varano

10-minute break

11:00-11:55

Plenary Session: Mission: AstroAccess Ambassador Panel

5-minute break

12:00-1:00

KEYNOTE ADDRESS — Sirisha Bandla

Virgin Galactic Astronaut and Vice President of Government Affairs and Research Operations

LUNCH BREAK: 1:00-2:00 PM

2:00-2:30

Empowering Students with Low Vision and Their Teachers in STEM, Tiffany Wild & Tina Herzberg

2:00-2:45

American Astronomical Society Special Session: How to Make an Accessible Presentation

2:30-2:45

Representation Matters! The Role of Arts, Entertainment, and Humanities in Advancing STEAM Accessibility and STEAM Identity, Adrienne Provenzano

2:45-3:00

Empowering Students Through Astropreneurship, Muhammad Rayan Khan

2:45-3:00

Designing Your Online Course to be Accessible to Students with Disabilities, Sheryl Burgstahler

10-minute break

3:10-3:40

Robotics and Coding with the National Technical Institute for the Deaf Regional STEM Center, Harry Wood

3:10-3:40

Chandra’s Accessible Universe: From Sight to Sound & Touch, Kimberly Arcand

3:40-3:55

Catalyst: Creating Opportunities in STEM for Students with Disabilities, Joann Blumenfeld

3:40-3:55

 

5-minute break

3:55-4:00

Greetings from the South Pole by Neutrino Scientists!

4:00-5:00

KEYNOTE ADDRESS — CHRIS BOSHUIZEN 

Blue Origin Astronaut and Co-Founder of Planet Labs

5:00-6:00

Conference Social Hour

All times are listed in ET

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 13

STRAND A: EDUCATORS, STUDENTS, AND OUTREACH

STRAND B: RESEARCHERS, PROFESSIONALS, AND THE WORKPLACE

9:00-9:05

Day 2 Welcome by Dr. John Beacom, Distinguished Professor of Astronomy and Physics
and Director of the Ohio State Center for Cosmology and AstroParticle Physics

9:05-9:35

Innovative Differentiated Exploration Activities in Space Science - IDEAS, Maria Royle, Cassandra Runyon, Caitlin Milera & Tori McIntosh

9:05-9:35

Sonifying Your Presentation For Accessibility, Clara Brasseur

9:35-9:50

Grassroots Activism: Raising space awareness through digital technology, Ruvimbo Samanga

 

9:35-9:50

Accessibility and Universal Design of Conferences, Brianna Blaser

10-minute break

10:00-10:15

STEM beyond Sight: Making STEM accessible for the visually impaired, Sahil Bhatia

10:00-10:15

Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity in the Space Sector: Experiences and Challenges in the Middle East, Niki Sajjad

10:15-10:30

Diversifying Astronomy for Special Education, Exodus Chun-Long Sit

10:15-10:30

Comparison of Universal Design and Individual Design in Terms of Accessibility in STEM Education, Mustafa Sahin Bulbul

10:30-11:00

NASA's Neurodiversity Network: Creating Inclusive Informal Learning Opportunities Across the Spectrum, Lynn Cominsky & Ariana Riccio

10:30-11:00

Using a Universal Design Framework to Underpin DEI Initiatives, Sheryl Burgstahler

10-minute break

11:10-11:40

The Story of Think and Zoom Brain Control for Blind Assistive Tech, Zuby Onwuta

11:10-11:40

Putting Inequity in STEM Under the Microscope: the roles of inclusion, diversity, equity and accessibility in science and innovation,  Mahadeo Sukhai & Ainsley Latour

11:40-11:55

An Integrated Approach to Teaching Interdisciplinary Science, Fay Rahni

11:40-11:55

Universal Instructions of Design: Accommodations and Long Covid,
Laura Checki and Michele Daly

5-minute break

12:00-1:00

KEYNOTE ADDRESS — JOSH MIELE

 

MacArthur Grant Award Winner and Digital Accessibility Specialist

LUNCH BREAK: 1:00-2:00 

2:00-2:30

Art and Science of Accessibility,
Sarmistha Talukdar

2:00-2:45

American Astronomical Society Special Session: How to Make an Accessible Presentation

2:30-2:45

The SciAccess Zenith Mentorship Program, Mary Rickel, Rachel Slaybaugh & Bailey Stephens

2:45-3:15

Accessibility Considerations at Outreach Events, Noreen Grice

2:45-3:15

Accessibility Requirements for Resuming in-person Conferences, Maria Elena Monzani

10-minute break

3:25-3:40

Beyond "Surviving" and onto Thriving: Making Academia a play where all can thrive, Ufuoma Ovienmhada

 

3:25-3:40

3D Spatial Audio in the Context of Universal Access, Yuma Antoine Decaux

3:40-3:55

Experiencing Bats Through Touch, Sound, and Adventure, Lindsay Yazzolino

3:40-3:55

Access for ALL: How Postsecondary Education is Creating STEM Career Pathways for Individuals with IDD, Diane Weinbrandt

5-minute break

4:00-5:00

KEYNOTE ADDRESS — APURVA VARIA

Mission Director and AstroAccess Ambassador

5:00

Thank you and goodnight!

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 12

All times listed are in ET

9:00-9:10: Welcome Address

Anna Voelker, SciAccess Conference Director


Concurrent Sessions

9:10-9:40: LightSound: Accessibility for the 2023 and 2024 Solar Eclipses

Allyson Bieryla» For full speakers bio, click here.

Soley Hyman » For full speaker bio, click here.

People from all over the United States (and abroad) flocked to the path of totality to witness the Great American Solar Eclipse in 2017. The sentiment was the same for the 2019 and 2020 South American eclipses that passed through Chile and Argentina. While a total solar eclipse is typically thought of as a striking visual phenomenon, it is not the only way to observe one, and for blind or low vision individuals, having an alternate medium to observe an eclipse is a necessity. LightSound is a low-cost, hand-held device that was originally developed for the 2017 North American eclipse. It has a very high-dynamic range sensor that converts light to sound in a process called sonification. The sound can be output to headphones or to a speaker during an event to make the entire event more accessible while capturing the dimming of the Sun in the form of sound. All documentation and software needed to build and use the LightSound are open source and free for download and modification. As the 2023 and 2024 North American solar eclipses approach, we aim to increase the number of LightSounds across the paths of totality so that the experiences can be more inclusive and accessible. In the astronomy community, we are holding a series of workshops through the American Astronomical Society to train new users to build and use the devices, but we hope to expand to a more general audience by connecting with organizations such as libraries, museums, national parks, girl/boy scouts, and others groups who we can help to build the necessary devices for communities and events in need. This talk will give an overview of the successes of the project and our plans for the upcoming solar eclipses.


9:10-9:40: Autism In Color

Senay Daniel» For full speaker bio, click here.

When a layperson thinks of someone with autism, they may imagine a television or film character with autism such as the leading men of The Good Doctor, Atypical, or Rain Man. These characters, and many more in American media who are known to or thought to have autism, nearly always have one thing in common: they are white. In the current zeitgeist, autism and whiteness are inextricably coupled, leaving little room for the representation of others outside of this mold. Even among the real-world population of American individuals diagnosed with autism, people of color are significantly underrepresented. Despite there being no causal link between ethnicity and incidence of autism, certain racial and ethnic groups in the United States are significantly less likely to be diagnosed with autism, and are often diagnosed later in life when they receive a diagnosis. Individuals with autism that belong to certain racial and ethnic groups receive less financial support, educational support, and medical treatment than their white counterparts do. The reasons for the disparity are widespread, but commonly cited factors include socioeconomic disparities, implicit and overt racial biases held by medical professionals, and issues stemming from cultural differences. While these factors are an unfortunate part of American life, there are actions that can alleviate their impact, and this presentation calls attention to both the issues at hand as well as potential solutions. This presentation proposes ways to support people of color with autism and highlights the work of Autism In Color, a support group for this population founded by the presenters.


9:40-9:55: Speech-to-Braille in Real Time in the STEM Classroom

Lisa Vogt » For full speaker bio, click here.

I am a staff Typewell and Braille transcriber in the Office of Student Life Disability Services. I work with deaf students and blind students, but usually separately. However, one semester I was working with a student who has both a visual and hearing impairment. In her math classroom, she was having trouble hearing what the lecturer was saying, in addition to not being able to see what the instructor was writing on a board. I thought about it and realized there must be a way to combine my two skills of Typewell (captioning) technology and Braille transcribing, in such a way that the student could receive real-time access of lecture material in Braille on a Braille display. In AU20, we conducted a pilot program of what we call ""speech-to-Braille"" in a math classroom and found success pairing my laptop with a Braille display. This provided the student with equal access to the classroom material.


9:40-9:55: See3D: Growing and Adapting our 3D Printing Distribution Organization 

Athena Wrenn » For full speaker bio, click here.

Since its inception in 2017, See3D, Inc. has distributed more than 1,250 3D printed models to people who are blind. In winter 2019, See3D was approved as a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization and founded an internship program was created that encompasses a team of high school and college students working in strategy, web development, graphic design, marketing, 3D modeling, and learning plan creation. See3d.org has been updated to send model requests to a Slack workspace, for maximum collaboration between volunteers. Learning plans, which are themed model kits with detailed and informative model descriptions in various accessible formats, are also being developed. Collaboration has expanded encompassing, distributing models to countries around the world. Future plans include expanding our leadership team, expanding our volunteer network, and modifying 3D printers to make them accessible to blind users.


9:55-10:05: Break


10:05-10:35: Unconscious Bias in STEM Education, Training and Research: How to recognize it, and what to do about it

Mahadeo Sukhai » For full speakers bio, click here.

Ainsley Latour » For full speaker bio, click here.

“You have a disability – you can’t do science!” We have all heard this sentiment – and, some of us (educators, parents, employers), if we are really honest with ourselves, have either thought it or outright said it. Attitudes are the most challenging barrier to remove when working toward accessibility in the sciences; at the root of many of our attitudes are unconscious biases. These may take the form of personal or professional bias; bias about how we teach science, how we learn science, or how we do science. This session will take us the participants on a tour of unconscious biases: Where they come from, how to recognize them, how to manage their consequences, and how to counter them, both in others, and in ourselves. We will use two case studies to illustrate the power and danger of unconscious biases, and how to work through them in educators, parents and peers. In the first case study, we will tackle unconscious bias in how educators at all levels (K-12 and postsecondary) create and apply learning objectives and teach science. In the second case study, we will focus specifically on unconscious bias in the trainee-supervisor relationship in undergraduate and graduate education for students with disabilities. Unconscious biases on the part of both the student and the supervisor can play a part in the evolution of these relationships, and their ultimate success and failure. In both case studies, we will also work through means to recognize and counter unconscious biases, and how the experience of successfully countering unconscious bias in STEM education will ultimately lead to a successful STEM education journey for students with disabilities.


10:05-10:35: DisabledInSTEM: Inclusive and Accessible Science Communication

Alyssa Paparella » For full speaker bio, click here.

Through this talk, participants will learn about harnessing social media to create a community, through using the DisabledInSTEM as an example. Specifically, this session will cover the founding of the DisabledInSTEM community, the mentorship program for disabled individuals, and growth of the platform that has occurred since its initial founding in March 2020. Additionally, participants will be introduced to the importance of accessible science communication tips on social media with the goal of participants learning to implement accessible practices after attendance.


10:35-10:50: Who was the Famous Deaf Scientist?

Gabriel Arellano » For full speaker bio, click here.


10:35-10:50: Understanding Diversity and Promoting Equity in Astronomy

Stefani Varano » For full speaker bio, click here.

Can the power and charm of astronomy be used to enhance equity in access to scientific culture and include discomfort, be it physical, cultural, cognitive? The very ambitious goal that the Italian National Institute of Astrophysics (INAF) pursuits is to make astronomy ""barrier-free"", within the framework of Universal Design. We promote the use of Astrophysics and Space Sciences to encourage and support the individual's self-determination and self-expression, regardless of gender, social status and cultural backgrounds. INAF working group for inclusion in education and outreach is responsible for supporting and coordinating projects of public engagement aimed at fostering equity of access to scientific and technological culture. Moreover, with our work we aim at fostering awareness about diversity and equity also within our academic reference context. The editorial staff of EduINAF, the magazine of INAF addressed to school and society, in collaboration with the INAF “inclusion” working group, has opened the ""inclusive education"" section in which the works carried out by INAF researchers and technologists in this area are presented and analysed and in which news and in-depth studies are periodically presented, also resulting from our collaborations with experts, institutions and organizations in the sector. Beyond analysing the presented issue, we propose educational activities and methodologies to be used by teachers in order to deal with and face the matter in schools. Up to present, some of the issues of the section have been the report of multisensory exhibitions and activities designed to increase the possibilities of access to information for individuals with sensory difficulties, the use of storytelling for helping social inclusion, also in situations of confinement, the position of science with regards to the gender differences, the iconicity of Sign Languages in pre-school contexts, the potentialities of Astronomy in terms of interculturality, the importance of language and terms for promoting equal attitudes. More than a collection of best practices, these issues are presented as research efforts, aimed on the one side at improving the awareness of the variety of skills and professionalism implied in such studies and on the other side at offering thoughtful resources for inclusive outreach and education in Astronomy.


10:50-11:00: Break


A photo of the twelve astroaccess ambassadors, standing and smiling on a tarmac with the zero-g plane behind them.

11:00-11:55: Plenary Session: Mission: AstroAccess Ambassador Panel

On October 17, Mission: AstroAccess launched a group of disabled scientists, veterans, students, athletes, and artists on a historic parabolic flight with the Zero Gravity Corporation (ZERO-G), as the first step in a progression toward flying a diverse range of people to space. These AstroAccess Ambassadors experienced weightlessness and carried out lunar gravity, Martian gravity, and zero gravity observations and demonstrations to investigate how the physical environment aboard space vessels should be modified so that all astronauts and explorers, regardless of disability on Earth, can live, work, and thrive in space. AstroAccess is part of the SciAccess Initiative and is conducted in partnership with a robust network of world-renowned partners as detailed on https://astroaccess.org/. Come learn from our ambassadors about their ZERO-G experience and hear their ideas, thoughts, and vision for project's next steps!


11:55-12:00: Break


Sirisha Bandla smiles in the forefront of a photo of her among her fellow Virgin Galactic astronauts.

12:00 – 1:00: Keynote Presentation by Sirisha Bandla

Virgin Galactic Astronaut and Vice President of Government Affairs and Research Operations

For full speaker bio, click here.


1:00-2:00: Lunch Break


2:00-2:30: Empowering Students with Low Vision and Their Teachers in STEM

Tiffany Wild & Tina Herzberg» For full speaker bios, click here.

Tina Herzberg » For full speaker bio, click here.

This session will give an overview of a free program that is working to provide teachers and their students with visual impairments the opportunity to engage in more STEM related projects outside of school to enhance student learning. Through Project Inspire, teachers are given expert training on the Nemeth Code, a math braille code, as well as help in creating tactile graphics in order to make visual mathematical representations more accessible. Additional professional development is provided to help teachers gain more insight on STEM education. Students are also provided access to programming developed just for them that provides support in learning Nemeth Code and mathematical problem solving through games. Research gathered during this program will be shared along with a preview of a new program being developed for students across the country to engage in applications of STEM through hands-on learning while also engaged in life-skills or career development and social skills. Free resources and links for all of this programming will be provided.


2:30-2:45: Representation matters! The Role of Arts, Entertainment, and Humanities in Advancing STEAM Accessibility and STEAM Identity

Adrienne Provenzano » For full speaker bio, click here.

Representation matters! What does this phrase mean when it comes to inspiring the next generation of disabled STEAM professionals? This session presented by an Arts Integration and STEAM education specialist will consider how the representation of disabled persons as STEAM learners and professionals through arts, entertainment, and humanities has a critical role to play in developing STEAM identity and STEAM endeavors. Parallels will be drawn with the importance of representation in the areas of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Some existing resources will be discussed as well as some specific ways that educators, learners, and families of disabled students can play a role in affecting, challenging, promoting, and expanding representation of disabled STEAM learners and professionals.


2:45-3:00: Empowering Students Through Astropreneurship

Muhammad Rayan Khan » For full speaker bio, click here.

The discipline of astronomy offers a unique opportunity for both science and society through its potential for inspiration and empowerment. Young children have a natural interest in and curiosity about the wonders and beauty of the universe. This inspires them to learn about it, even the aspects that are abstract and not easily observable. Whereas in Pakistan, lack of awareness among the youth about the huge potential of space science and technology is a major cause behind astronomy and planetary science not being a career choice among our young generation because of job opportunities is less in Pakistan in this field. Develop entrepreneurial mindsets in a unique way that one must be creative, communicative, and highly motivated to succeed, yet open to risk and failure in highly evolving field of space science and astronomy. Empower them in a manner that encourages their belief in their own abilities and potential for positive growth. By understanding how you can empower your student, you’ll be building a strong foundation that will help them succeed as they tackle academic and personal challenges.


2:00-2:45: American Astronomical Society Special Session: How to Make an Accessible Presentation 

The purpose of SciAccess AAS is to increase the number of presentations and posters accessible to persons with sensory and print disabilities at AAS meetings. This will be accomplished by providing AAS members with professional development for the creation of accessible presentations in the context of an accessible conference. The proposal provides free registration to the SciAccess Conference in November 2021 for fifty AAS members who are interested in modeling accessible presentation techniques at the 239th AAS meeting.


2:45-3:00: Designing Your Online Course to be Accessible to Students with Disabilities

Sheryl Burgstahler» For full speaker bio, click here.

Dr. Sheryl Burgstahler founded and directs Accessible Technology Services—which includes the DO-IT (Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking, and Technology) and the IT Accessibility Technology (ITAT) Teams—at the University of Washington. These dynamic groups promote (1) the development of self determination skills, use of mainstream and assistive technology, and other interventions to support the success of students with disabilities in postsecondary education and careers and (2) the universal design (UD) of learning opportunities; facilities; websites, media, documents and other IT; and services to ensure that they are accessible to, usable by, and inclusive of individuals with disabilities.


3:00-3:10: Break


3:10-3:40: Robotics and Coding with the National Technical Institute for the Deaf Regional STEM Center

Harry Wood » For full speaker bio, click here.

Our goal is to increase STEM skills among D/HH students to prepare them for future careers. Robotics is a great way to include STEM skills in the classroom. Many of the essential parts of STEM learning such as critical thinking, problem-solving, teamwork, collaboration, planning/organization, and self-advocacy & management can be addressed through the use of robotics.


3:10-3:40: Chandra's Accessible Universe: Froom Sight to Sound & Touch

Kimberly Arcand » For full speaker bio, click here.

We present the results of a suite of accessible data vivification projects to help connect users - particularly those who are blind or low vision or have different learning needs - with the science of NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory. Firstly, a 3D modeling and printing project, in development and then implemented for over a decade, has resulted in a library of 3D printed cosmic objects tested and refined with students who are blind or low vision. Secondly, a popular data sonification project was initiated in 2020 to provide additional means of access and meaning-making for astronomical data during the pandemic when in-person access for materials became greatly restricted or halted altogether. A study was conducted on the sonification project showing high engagement levels across multiple user groups. Thirdly, a verbal description program of astronomical data (primarily images and data-driven time-lapse movies or sonifications, as well as illustrations when required) commenced in 2021 to help further elucidate Chandra and other astrophysical data. Lessons learned from this suite of projects, which have each worked with communities of students or professionals who are blind or low visions to address the quality and accessibility of the data output, will be discussed.


3:40-3:55: Catalyst: Creating Opportunities in STEM for Students with Disabilities

Joann Blumenfeld » For full speaker bio, click here.

Come learn about: Catalyst a three-time National Award-winning high school program designed to create STEM opportunities for students with disabilities, located the Science House, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina. Students learn STEM content and skills through hands-on labs and research, participate in STEM field trips, mentoring opportunities, and internships, improve workforce readiness and soft skills, and explore STEM educational pathways and careers. Catalyst also provides students job exploration counseling, workplace readiness training, work-based learning experiences, counseling on postsecondary options, and development in self-advocacy. This program is funded through NC Vocational Rehabilitation and has community, government, and industry partners. Catalyst Received a National Science Foundation (NSF) Grant for Connecting Students with Autism to Geographic Information Science & Technology, 2021, Program of Excellence Award, 2021, International Technology and Engineering Educators Association, Winners of National 2017 Lemelson-MIT InvenTeam Competition. The students invented a mat that screens for lameness in cows and an App that notifies farmers. They also won the technical award and were the only in the country with all students with disabilities, Winners of National Energy Education Development Project: Special Project Award, 2020, Invited to the US Patent Office, June 2018 for a special program and All graduating Catalyst Seniors have gone on to STEM Educational Pathways in College. Learn how you too, can start a program in your state or Country. Learn how you can become a mentor to a Catalyst Participant.


3:35-3:50: 3D Spatial Audio in the Context of Universal Access

Yuma Antoine Decaux » For full speaker bio, click here.

Blindness is a disability for which the notion of access pertains to many areas: mobility, social activity and participation, entertainment, education and the work force. As a consequence, regardless of one's career, the choice is accompanied with many tools to seek, methods to adopt, and obstacles to surpass, particularly in education and work. One imposing problem to blind students and professionals , in the age of data science and rigorous mathematical or statistical analysis, is the visual representations of abstract concepts which are not inherent but acquired, necessitating a process of learning, exploration,practice, and unbiased interpretation to the underlying data or structures. Moreover, this access has to be efficient, with least path to resistance to acquire and understand to be useful or engaging. Unfortunately, many standard software tools for education and professionals are inaccessible to blind users as a default, and is a real challenge to blind individuals as a consequence. This presentation will demonstrate the overlap of human interfacing, gamification or interactivity using multi sensorial approaches, and hardcore science. Secondarily, the demonstration is meant to send the message that the diversity of instrumentation, a reflection of the diversity of human needs and circumstances, and a diversity of approaches to a problem is the ground for universal access, better learning, experience and progress. The first section will make a live demonstration of an augmented reality experience of constellations in 3D audio visual, as an interface to initial engagement to young blind users who are interested in space and astronomy and wish to learn more. The second part will interactively demonstrate the scientific and data expliration methods used to locate, hear and feel objects across a sky map of the universe, target specific objects using an integrated search tool, and analyse the targetted object by exploring data available for that object.


3:50-3:55: Break


3:55-4:00: Greetings from the South Pole by Neutrino Scientists!


Chris Boshuizen stands smiling in front of a blue sky, holding a small rover in his hands.

4:00 – 5:00: Keynote Presentation by Chris Boshuizen

Blue Origin Astronaut and Co-Founder of Planet Labs

For full speaker bio, click here.





SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 13

All times listed are in ET

9:00-9:05: Day 2 Welcome Dr. John Beacom, Distinguished Professor of Astronomy and Physics and Director of the Ohio State Center for Cosmology and AstroParticle Physics


9:05-9:35: Innovative Differentiated Exploration Activities in Space Science - IDEAS

Maria Royle » For full speaker bios, click here.

Cassandra Runyon » For full speaker bio, click here.

Caitlin Miler » For full speaker bio, click here.

Tori McIntosh» For full speaker bio, click here.

As an educator or parent, you may have found yourself in a situation in which you were working with an exceptional student and/or a person with disabilities and the material or curricula you were using was not accessible. If so, you are not alone. Understanding the disability type and adaptations or accommodations for your students or audience can help to create a successful and more engaging outcome. Through our IDEAS project (Innovative Differentiated Education Activities in Space Science) we are continuing to identify adaptations for NASA and STEM hands-on activities following universal design concepts. Universal Design is a “framework for integrating flexible, usable, and accessible teaching and learning technologies with inquiry- and standards-based” science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, curricula. The IDEAS project is a collaboration between South Carolina, North Carolina, and North Dakota Space Grant Consortia and NASA. In August 2021, the three consortia traveled to NASA Langley Research Center and partnered with NASA scientists and educators to implement modifications to existing NASA activities aligned with universal design strategies. The team recorded instructional videos at NASA Langley designed for educators, detailing these accessibility modifications. The IDEAS Team plans to conduct educator professional development workshops in 2022 and beyond to continue the work of modifying NASA and STEM activities to be accessible to all learners.


9:05-9:35: Sonifying Your Presentation For Accessibility

Clara Brasseur» For full speaker bio, click here.

Sonification is the process of turning data into sound, the aural counterpart to visualization. In this talk I will discuss making presentations more accessible through the process of sonification, specifically using the software Astronify to add sonification to data plots. Astronify is a Python package for sonifying time series data, I will show how it can be used to make sonifications that complement the data plots in a presentation, thereby increasing accessibility and adding an additional vector for conveying scientific information.


9:35-9:50: Grassroots Activism: Raising space awareness through digital technology

Ruvimbo Samanga » For full speaker bio, click here.

Gender, race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status have long been discussed in the field of science education to increase access to science for all students. However, disability is an essential component often left out of this intersectional discussion. In fact, students with disabilities are often deemed incapable of doing science because of social, educational, and institutional barriers. This stigma has impeded students with disabilities in their science learning. This session will address issues in science education for students with disabilities and discuss possible solutions to those issues so as to increase the awareness that Science for All includes students with disabilities.


9:35-9:50: Accessibility and Universal Design of Conferences

Brianna Blaser » For full speaker bio, click here.

Many STEM conferences and events neglect accessibility until someone requests an accommodation, at which point they may or may not be able to respond adequately. Proactively planning for accessibility, appointing an accessibility chair, and including people with disabilities in the planning process can improve the accessibility of events. Taking these steps can serve to improve the conference experience for all attendees, not just people with disabilities. This presentation will discuss proactive steps conferences and events can take to be accessible in either in-person or online settings. Among the topics discussed will be websites, submission processes, venues, presentation guidelines, responding to accommodation requests, apps or online platforms, and evaluation. Brianna will draw on her experiences planning and hosting events, serving as a resources for organizations looking to plan accessible events, and serving as the Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing accessibility chair for 2019-2021.


9:50-10:00: Break


10:00-10:15: STEM beyond Sight: Making STEM accessible for the visually impaired

Sahil Bhatia » For full speaker bio, click here.

Vision is arguably the most critical sense that drives the human experience. Unfortunately, for millions of people, the privilege of having functional eyesight is something they may have never experienced. In this session, Sahil talks about the challenges he and many other students face in STEM. The talk also highlights the ongoing efforts to make STEM accessible for those with visual impairments in India.


3:10-3:25: Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity in the Space Sector: Experiences and Challenges in the Middle East,

Niki Sajjad » For full speaker bio, click here.

With the growing global passion for space, more people need to be included in the space sector. Women constitute half the population and are still underestimated in many countries. You might be born and raised in a region with a very narrow-minded society, but yet be lucky enough to be in a supportive family that does not let you notice any inequalities. But the reality is that many women and girls suffer from a lack of recognition through their family and society, and they face hundreds of challenges in their space pathway. Inclusion, diversity, and equity (IDE) should be discussed to define “space4all” in every region on this planet. We will see the statistical results of IDE in the Middle East and talk about challenges and potential solutions.


10:15-10:30: Diversifying Astronomy for Special Education

Exodus Chun-Long Sit» For full speaker bio, click here.

Special Education has been a general case in the classrooms that some educators might face difficulties to motivate SEN students, such as ADHD and ASD, to learn and explore. Astronomy for Special Education had been proposed for many years and recently launched with action research by National Astronomy Education Coordinator (Hong Kong NAEC Team), International Astronomical Union. The observation of learning process was encouraging that Astronomy, which is part of natural science, could be reframed into diversity learning and innovative strategies, including indoors and outdoors, static and dynamic activities, etc.


10:15-10:30: Comparison of University Design and Individual Design in Terms of Accessibility in STEM Education

Mustafa Sahin Bulbul » For full speaker bio, click here.

First of all, STEM education and accessibility will be reminded, and then the concepts of universal design and individual design will be examined comparatively. Despite the recognition of universal design, the concept of individual design is not widely known. For this reason, individual design principles will be introduced, especially by giving examples from application studies.


10:30-11:00: NASA's Neurodiversity Network: Creating Inclusive Informal Learning Opportunities Across the Spectrum

Lynn Cominsky » For full speaker bio, click here.

Ariana Riccio » For full speaker bio, click here.

NASA’s Neurodiversity Network brings together experienced NASA educators at Sonoma State University, autism education specialists from the Education Development Center and informal education experts from the New York Hall of Science (NYSCI) to create and support a five-year program designed to provide a pathway to NASA participation and STEM employment for neurodiverse (ND) learners, with a focus on those on the autism spectrum. In the first year of the program, we selected 16 high school and college students for summer internships in partnership with NASA subject matter expert mentors. We also engaged high school teachers and ND learners in astronomy activities that included the use of robotically-operated telescopes and the analysis of NASA satellite data. We then met with the teachers and selected students in an extensive co-design process to gather feedback and input that will be used to optimize these activities for future use by ND youth. A subset of the activities will be piloted at NYSCI with mixed audiences of neurodiverse and neurotypical youth, and then later disseminated through NASA’s Science Activation program. In this talk, we will present excerpts from student internship project presentations and discuss the inclusion strategies that motivate the codesign process. NASA’s Neurodiversity Network materials are based upon work supported by NASA under award number 80NSSC21M0004 to Sonoma State University, working in partnership with the Education Development Center (EDC), the New York Hall of Science (NYSCI), and WestEd. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.


10:30-11:00: Using a Universal Design Framework to Underpin DEI Initiatives

Sheryl Burgstahler» For full speaker bio, click here.

A Universal Design (UD) Framework can be fleshed out into a toolkit relevant to the development to diversity, equity and inclusion efforts at an educational institution, department, or specifically area such as online learning, student services, or technology. The presenter will guide participants in thinking through how they can build an Inclusive Campus/Department Model that begins with their institution’s vision and values, applies the UD Framework and Toolkit, considers existing practices (with respect to stakeholder roles, funding, policies, procedures, training, etc.), designs new practices, and measures outcomes and impacts with respect to the institution’s vision and values. UD is defined by the Center for UD as “the design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design.” Principles for the UD of any product or environment include those related to: • Equitable use • Simple and intuitive use • Perceptible information • Tolerance for error • Low physical effort • Size and space for approach and use These principles, have been applied to the design of architecture and commercial products, IT, instruction, and student services. Many UD-inspired frameworks have emerged to specifically address instructional applications, the most one being the UD for Learning (UDL). UDL implementations offer students multiple means of • Engagement • Representation • Action and expression Many specific barriers to digital tools and content faced by individuals with disabilities today have well-documented solutions that are articulated by the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), originally published in 1999 by the World Wide Web Consortium: • Perceivable • Operable • Understandable • Robust Applying the combination of UD, UDL, and WCAG principles is particularly suitable for addressing all offerings in educational settings in order to ensure that students are offered multiple ways to learn and demonstrate what they have learned as they interact with accessible physical and digital environments and products that minimize accommodations.


11:00-11:10: Break


11:10-11:40: The Story of Think and Zoom Brain Control for Blind Assistive Tech

Zuby Onwuta» For full speaker bio, click here.

This talk is the story of how legal blindness ended my medical studies, military career and engineering career, but inspired me to invent and patent a solution that reads and responds to brain waves, to provide hands free use of blind assistive tech, for the purpose of vision augmentation and reading assistance.


11:10-11:40: Putting Inequality in STEM Under the Microscope: the roles of inclusion, diversity, equity and accessibility in science and innovation

Mahadeo Sukhai» For full speaker bio, click here.
Ainsley Latour » For full speaker bio, click here.

How do we know that our efforts to improve accessibility in our labs, curricula, departments and faculties are successful? Often, we measure our success by counting – how many trainees with disabilities are in our programs? How accessible is our website? What fraction of our documents are accessible? Are our events designed in fully accessible and inclusive ways? The major problem with these approaches is that they do not go beyond “surface effects”: While doing things and recruiting people are important initiatives, they are not, by themselves, outcomes. They are part of a larger whole that often gets missed in the conversation around measurement and evaluation of accessibility initiatives. In particular, the conversation around measurement of inclusion is often erroneously defined by the conversation around measuring diversity. In this presentation, we will first examine the intersections and differences among IDEA principles (inclusion, diversity, equity and accessibility), and then briefly discuss principles behind measuring how successful we are at applying IDEA principles. We will also touch on the importance of recognizing the time horizons implicit in accessibility initiatives, and how short term initiatives can live in service to the long-term vision of improving accessibility n STEM. Using two case studies – one of a faculty member running a research lab; and, the second of a university department developing a strategic plan – we will illustrate the application of IDEA principles in each setting, and discuss how to embed a culture of measurement and evaluation into our efforts to improve accessibility in STEM.


11:40-11:55: An Integrated Approach to Teaching Interdisciplinary Science

Fay Rahni » For full speaker bio, click here.

The thematic objective is how to adapt the proper use of pertinent scientific equipment, instruments, and materials for students with visual impairment. As it is common knowledge, 85 percent of information around us are received and processed by brain through vision. We are making progress to integrate our lab equipment for students with disabilities such as visual impaired, to complement their tactual and sensing odor abilities.


11:40-11:55: Universal Instructions of Design: Accommodations and Long Covid

Laura Checki » For full speaker bio, click here.

Michele Daly » For full speaker bio, click here.


11:55-12:00: Break


Josh Miele sits in the middle of a subway terminal. He is in sharp focus while the background and others around him are blurred.

4:00-5:00: Keynote Address by Josh Miele

MacArthur Grant Award Winner and Digital Accessibility Specialist

For full speaker bio, click here.


1:00-2:00: Lunch Break


2:00-2:30: Art and Science of Accessibility

Sarmistha Talukdar » For full speaker bio, click here.

Art and science are disciplines that on the surface seem to have different underlying goals, perspective, and practice. However When these two disciplines are combined, the collaboration provides strength in approaching ideas, developing emergent sysyems along with accessibilty. As a scientist,artist and educator, I see many benefits to science, art, and public outreach that can be accomplished through such collaborations. Moreover creating a culture of accessibility in the sciences helps in integrating researchers and students with disabilities from diverse backgrounds into the STEM fields. This talk briefly describes some of the ways to make science more accessible by use of multimodal approaches, merging some aspects of the arts, creating new ways of processing and presenting information such as data sonification, data visualization and tactile designing. These would make science not only more interesting but also more accessible to blind, deaf, neurodivergent and other disabled people in science. The focus of the talk would mostly be on data sonifcation and how to utilize it for accessibilty and outreach.


2:30-2:45: The SciAcccess Zenith Mentorship Program

Mary Rickel » For full speaker bio, click here.
Rachel Slaybaugh » For full speaker bio, click here.
Bailey Stephens » For full speaker bio, click here.

The SciAccess Zenith Mentorship Program is a fully virtual program that engages blind and visually impaired (BVI) students in astronomy and space science by pairing them with student mentors at the Ohio State University. Created in 2020 in partnership with Ohio State and the Ohio State School for the Blind, Zenith is open to BVI students in grades 8 through 12 from around the world and provides them with an entry point into the fascinating world of astronomy and research.


2:00-2:45: American Astronomical Society Special Session: How to Make an Accessible Presentation

The purpose of SciAccess AAS is to increase the number of presentations and posters accessible to persons with sensory and print disabilities at AAS meetings. This will be accomplished by providing AAS members with professional development for the creation of accessible presentations in the context of an accessible conference. The proposal provides free registration to the SciAccess Conference in November 2021 for fifty AAS members who are interested in modeling accessible presentation techniques at the 239th AAS meeting.


2:45-3:15: Accessibility Considerations at Outreach Events

Noreen Grice » For full speaker bio, click here.

Wow! I didn’t know that! That’s so cool! Remember how you felt when you first got excited about science? Maybe you touched a meteorite or peered through a telescope or listened to an astronomer take you on a journey of the imagination through the universe.


2:45-3:15: Accessibility Requirements for Resuming In-person Conferences

Maria Elena Monzani» For full speaker bio, click here.

The ongoing pandemic has exacerbated the isolation of people with disabilities, due to the loss of physical access to habilitation personnel and facilities. However, the elimination of business travel in favor of virtual meetings has simplified the participation of physically disabled scientists in the intellectual life of the particle physics community. In view of the imminent restart of in-person conferences, it behooves us to re-examine the accessibility standards for all our upcoming events. In this talk, I will give an overview of accessibility considerations for in-person scientific meetings and highlight a few suggestions for improvement, with the goal of making our community more inclusive, and our conferences more enjoyable for all attendees.


3:00-3:10: Break


3:25-3:40: Beyond "Surviving" and onto Thriving: Making Academia a play where all can thrive

Ufoma Ovienmhada » For full speaker bio, click here.

Often times, institutions with intentions to improve DEI end up implementing programs that might increase the number of underrepresented identities without decreasing the hostility of academic environments so that these students can actually thrive. The goal of DEI efforts should not be for BIPOC and gender-minority students to just "survive" their institutions. The goal should be to tangibly change the fabric of institutions into environments where all identities can thrive academically, mentally and socially. This discuss will highlight some pitfalls of DEI initiatives and offer alternative ideas that could improve academic environments.


3:25-3:40: 3D Spatial Audio in the Context of Universal Access

Yuma Antoine Decaux » For full speaker bio, click here.

Blindness is a disability for which the notion of access pertains to many areas: mobility, social activity and participation, entertainment, education and the work force. As a consequence, regardless of one's career, the choice is accompanied with many tools to seek, methods to adopt, and obstacles to surpass, particularly in education and work. One imposing problem to blind students and professionals , in the age of data science and rigorous mathematical or statistical analysis, is the visual representations of abstract concepts which are not inherent but acquired, necessitating a process of learning, exploration,practice, and unbiased interpretation to the underlying data or structures. Moreover, this access has to be efficient, with least path to resistance to acquire and understand to be useful or engaging. Unfortunately, many standard software tools for education and professionals are inaccessible to blind users as a default, and is a real challenge to blind individuals as a consequence. This presentation will demonstrate the overlap of human interfacing, gamification or interactivity using multi sensorial approaches, and hardcore science. Secondarily, the demonstration is meant to send the message that the diversity of instrumentation, a reflection of the diversity of human needs and circumstances, and a diversity of approaches to a problem is the ground for universal access, better learning, experience and progress. The first section will make a live demonstration of an augmented reality experience of constellations in 3D audio visual, as an interface to initial engagement to young blind users who are interested in space and astronomy and wish to learn more. The second part will interactively demonstrate the scientific and data expliration methods used to locate, hear and feel objects across a sky map of the universe, target specific objects using an integrated search tool, and analyse the targetted object by exploring data available for that object.


3:40-3:55: Experiencing Bats Through Touch, Sound, and Adventure

Lindsay Yazzolino » For full speaker bio, click here.

Lindsay will discuss her experiences as a totally blind tactile designer exploring her love of bats through citizen science research, tactile models, and other batty adventures, most recently visiting the largest urban bat colony of over a million bats in Austin, Texas. She will describe her experiences figuring out ways to design and access tactile graphics and 3D-printed bat models, listening to ultrasonic bat calls, and, eventually, touching live bats! She will also be sharing her experiences with the goal of helping others find totally nonvisual ways to explore the subjects they are passionate about, whether professionally or just for fun.


3:40-3:55: Access for ALL: How Postsecondary Education is Creating STEM Career Pathways for Individuals with IDD

Diane Weinbrandt » For full speaker bio, click here.

The goal of this presentation is to inform participants of current research results of an NSF Planning grant and proposed NSF INCLUDES Alliance that will broaden pathways to the STEM workforce for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). The University of Cincnnati has proposed a partnership with The Ohio State University, Vanderbilt University and Think College to begin developing a comprehensive inclusive workforce model in which postsecondary programs develop STEM pathways for individuals with IDD, which includes supporting employers in recruiting and retaining employees with IDD. The project team is currently investigating national models and best practices for employing individuals with IDD in STEM career pathways. This presentation will share the shared vision of the network of partners who will develop a leadership and communication plan to guide ongoing collaboration to iteratively implement, refine, and broadly disseminate the model.


3:55-4:00: Break


Apurva Varia stands in front of a model rocket.

4:00-5:00: Keynote Address by Apurva Varia

Mission Director and AstroAccess Ambassador

For full speaker bio, click here.


5:00: Thank you and goodnight!