Geosciences have a long history of practices that exclude people with disabilities, perhaps more than any other field in science. The often physically isolated, prolonged, and hazardous nature of expeditionary field work creates barriers to participation for many. This issue is compounded by ableist practices and sentiments that are common in the field. To further our goal to recruit and retain talented scientists and to foster knowledge and appreciation for the natural world, we must commit to expanding participation to include people with disabilities.
Laws, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, have made great improvements in the accessibility of academic spaces. These laws require accommodations “not imposing a disproportionate or undue burden”. However, there is no restriction that ability accommodations be limited to a minimum legal requirement and that is not the standard to which UTIG aspires. Access to accommodations in office and classroom environments (e.g., mobility infrastructure, elevators, automated doors) is necessary, generally understood, and usually established. Field and lab work introduce accessibility issues not yet as well resolved. For example: a student with a visual impairment has a right to equal access to academic content and educational opportunities, but what accommodation is necessary to enable participation in a field course or lab research?
To resolve accommodations, students, faculty, and staff should consult the Disability Resources Guide and/or Services of Students with Disabilities for guidance on disability accommodations. Communication between supervisors, mentors, peers, and people with disabilities should be direct and avoid patronizing behavior, while also respecting privacy rights. Incidents of misconduct or bias related to a disability should be reported. Unfortunately, the above resources may not resolve all barriers to participation, especially in many field settings. UTIG staff should be prepared to recognize potential barriers to participation when planning field work and other activities, such as conferences and workshops, so that necessary accommodations can be anticipated and adopted for participants. Finally, accessibility in geoscience endeavors remains an open problem which the UTIG community is encouraged to investigate and contribute to developing solutions.
 Atchison, C.L., Libarkin, J.C. Professionally held perceptions about the accessibility of the geosciences. Geosphere 12(4), 1154-65 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1130/GES01264.1.  Marshall, A.M., Thatcher, S. Creating Spaces for Geoscientists with Disabilities to Thrive, Eos 100 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1029/2019EO136434.