About SciAccess

The SciAccess Initiative was founded in 2018 to inspire, develop, and promote innovative approaches to equitable science access.

In the United States, careers surrounding science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, the STEM fields, are some of the most rapidly growing, as well as the most lucrative job opportunities. However, the 26% of Americans who live with disabilities often find themselves excluded from these careers, unable to access the skills and education required. Founded by Ohio State graduate Anna Voelker in 2018, the initiative began through the OSU President’s Prize, a $100k award for innovative projects that champion social change.From there, it has developed into myriad programs, including four main branches: the annual conference, the mentorship program,  Mission: AstroAccess, and the professional working group.

The SciAccess Conference brings together a diverse community of researchers, professionals, students, educators, employers, and disability rights advocates, whose shared knowledge and ideas are critical to increasing skills, knowledge, and opportunities in STEM fields for individuals with disabilities.

Anouseh Ansari (right), and Miss Wheelchair USA, Heather Tomko (left), at the 2019 SciAccess Conference, hosted at Ohio State.

SciAccess founder Anna Voelker (middle) talks to two SciAccess speakers — the first Iranian astronaut, Anouseh Ansari (right), and Miss Wheelchair USA, Heather Tomko (left), at the 2019 SciAccess Conference, hosted at Ohio State.

The inaugural SciAccess Conference in June 2019—supported, hosted, and made possible by OSU—brought together 250 attendees and featured over 60 speakers. In 2020, the SciAccess Conference was hosted as a virtual event, and it was clear that demand for the conference was growing.

Map of sciaccess attendees

Shown in blue are countries in which participants attended SciAccess 2020 from, including several neutrino scientists in Antartica.

Registrations reached over 1,000 people from 46 nations and all seven continents. This growth would not have been possible without the unwavering support of OSU, which sponsored the virtual 2020 event through the Department of Astronomy.

"In 2021, we are proud to host another virtual conference for our growing global community. This is being funded through The Ohio State University and organized in partnership with GLAS Education. For more information, please visit our 2021 Conference Page.