Celebrating Microbiologists With Disabilities

The American Society for Microbiology celebrates the achievements and contributions of scientists with disabilities to the field of microbiology. Scientists with disabilities enrich STEM with diverse insights, uniting individuals from all demographic groups. We believe that the various perspectives, experiences and backgrounds of our diverse membership enhance innovation, broaden the research agenda and further scientific advancement.

ASM Programs and Publishing

ASM is committed to providing accessibility accomodations and support services, including American Sign Language (ASL) interpreting, captioning services and alternative (alt) text, across the Society’s published content and events.    

Reflecting ASM’s commitment to inclusivity, the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minoritized Scientists (ABRCMS) actively partners with diverse institutions to ensure all attendees, including those with mobility impairments and members of the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing (DHH) community, receive necessary accommodations. This commitment is evident through on-site and online ASL interpreting and captioning services. Similarly, at ASM Microbe 2023, ASL interpretations are provided at keynote and large scientific sessions.   

ASM Journals has a policy on optimizing figures and tables for people with color vision deficiency (CVD). Furthermore, several ASM Journals have published articles on accommodations for, and the inclusion of, scientists with disabilities in lab and classroom settings.     

On ASM’s website, visuals include alt text to provide descriptions for people using screen readers. Captioning services are also available for video content, including a variety of webinars.

ASM's DEI Journals Collection

Read about inclusive curricula design, how to support early-career scientists with disabilities and more.

Explore the Collection

Committing to Inclusive Diversity with Equity, Access and Accountability (IDEAA)

As we recognize scientists with disabilities and their achievements, we also acknowledge remaining barriers in the field. According to ASM’s 2020 DEI Taskforce Report survey, scientists with disabilities represented about 18% of respondents. This is not representative of the 27% of the U.S. population that has a disability. To address these gaps, we aim to increase equitable inclusion and access within and across our activities, programs and offerings to ensure that ASM creates a more inclusive environment for a diverse community. With these efforts, we will work to build a membership that reflects the demographics of the U.S. population and the entire spectrum of professionals strengthening and promoting the field of microbiology.

An ASL interpreter at the keynote session for ASM Microbe 2023.

ASL interpreting was provided at the keynote session for ASM Microbe 2023.

Source: American Society for Microbiology

Featured Articles 

We prioritize the creation of robust content that celebrates IDEAA in the microbial sciences, elevates the voices of scientists from historically underrepresented groups and identifies and engages with the work that still needs to be done to ensure the field of microbiology promotes IDEAA.

Disability as Diversity in STEM: A New Perspective

The story of disability sits at the heart of the human experience. It is important to be mindful of the complexity and nuances that characterize the value of disability and to explore how continued transformation is redefining diversity and its significant impact on the landscape of STEM.

Neurodiversity in the Lab: A Symphony of the Minds

Neurodivergent individuals harbor a unique set of skills, but they are often marginalized rather than empowered, due to societal misconceptions. The lab, though filled with opportunities to do research, is also a dynamic rapid-pace workspace, and it is critical to build a lab environment that fosters a sense of inclusion for neurodivergent scientists and educators.

Microbiology for Blind or Visually Impaired Students

Providing equitable accommodations for students who are blind and visually impaired will not only help with student retention, but also set students up for success in their academic pursuits.

Featured Spotlights

Spotlight profile articles highlight the work and experiences of microbiologists from a diversity of backgrounds and identities in science.

Traversing STEM With Disabilities: Spotlight on Kyle Card

Kyle Card, Ph.D., shares how his identity as a scientist with Mobius syndrome and Hanhart syndrome have impacted his experiences in STEM and discusses the importance of increasing institutional awareness about accessibility and accommodations for persons with disabilities.

Adapting as a Disabled Scientist: Spotlight on Chris Rensing

Chris Rensing, Ph.D., and Distinguished Professor at Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University in Fuzhou, China, has hereditary spastic paraplegia. Learn more about his research team and their investigation of how microbes utilize heavy metals and compensate for metal toxicity.

Advocating for Deaf Scientists: Spotlight on John Dennehy

For most of his life, John Dennehy, Ph.D., tried to hide the fact that he was born deaf. Today, “I feel a responsibility to raise awareness for those who may not be able to advocate for themselves.” From researching large mammals to a focus on the tiniest of lifeforms (analyzing SARS-CoV-2 variants in wastewater), learn about Dennehy’s journey in STEM.

Featured Journals Content

Supporting Deaf Students in Undergraduate Research Experiences: Perspectives of American Sign Language Interpreters

Undergraduates who are deaf are eager to engage in research but often feel marginalized due to lack of appropriate accommodations. This Journal of Microbiology and Biology Education article features interviews with 4 ASL interpreters who provided full-time accommodations to teams consisting of 1 deaf student and 2 hearing peers during a 6-week internship.

Who Let the Dogs Out? A Plea for Official Guidelines on Service Animals in the Teaching Laboratory

This article explores how to support students who require a service animal with the hope that scientific organizations will establish clear guidelines to educate students, faculty, administrators and the general public on the challenges associated with guide dogs in a microbiology laboratory.

“Everyone Was Nice…But I Was Still Left Out”: An Interview Study About Deaf Interns’ Research Experiences in STEM

Students who are deaf typically interact with hearing faculty lacking experience with students who are deaf and awareness of Deaf culture, which unintentionally impacts their research experiences. This interview study sought to understand the research experiences of students who are deaf and their relationships with hearing mentors.

Featured Videos and Podcasts

Microbiology for Blind or Visually Impaired Students

Shannon Vassell, ASM's Senior IDEAA Program Officer, and Leah Potter, ASM's Communications Specialist, discuss the session, “Microbiology for the Blind and Visually Impaired,” which was presented by Dr. Barbara Heard, an associate professor of biology at Atlantic Cape Community College, at ASM Microbe 2022.

Wastewater Surveillance for COVID-19 and Beyond

ASM's COVID-19 Research Registry hosted the virtual discussion "Wastewater Surveillance for COVID-19 and Beyond" in May 2023. Here, John Dennehy, Ph.D., shares his expertise on testing wastewater for pathogens like SARS-CoV-2.

ASM Members have access to the COVID-19 Research Registry Virtual Journal Club Archive, where you can watch past recordings and stay abreast of the latest SARS-CoV-2 research.

Minority Mixer at ASM Microbe 2022.

Minority Mixer at ASM Microbe 2022.

Source: American Society for Microbiology

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