The Working Group on Accessibility and Disability was established at the 227th Meeting, January 2016 in Kissimmee, Florida, in response to a proposal from a group of AAS members.
Members of the working group are drawn from the community and appointed by the coordinating committee. Nominations (including self-nominations) to serve on the working group will be accepted by the steering committee at any time.
The working group is governed by a coordinating committee initially appointed by the AAS Board of Trustees that may include anywhere between 5 and 10 members, including two co-chairs.
Three years staggered, with terms beginning and ending at the close of the annual winter meeting.
Chairs are nominated by the Working Group and confirmed by the AAS Board of Trustees.
WGAD is tasked with promoting inclusion of and equity of opportunity for disabled astronomers at all career stages. Ableism is discrimination in favor of able-bodied or neurotypical people; it is an entire system of thinking and doing that hurts disabled people and is a form of structural oppression. Disability is defined as any mental, cognitive, or physical condition that, due to society’s structure, results in a significant barrier to engaging with society. Disabilities may be invisible or visible, and diagnosed or undiagnosed. Disablement occurs when biological and neurological realities collide with society and culture; it is not a problem located in someone’s mind or body, but in society.
Astronomy exists in the context of this society and is based in ableism. To that end, WGAD will work to:
- Identify, document, and eliminate the barriers to access (including access to information) that impact disabled astronomers and students;
- Actively address the intersections of ableism with racism, sexism, heterosexism, cissexism, and classism;
- Increase accessibility for disabled astronomers and students;
- Support the current professional astronomy community to bring people with disabilities into the workforce;
- Recognize disability by teaching disability history, specifically including the disability history of astronomy;
- Work to discourage the erasure of disability in astronomy;
- Promote knowledge of the roots of ableism and its effects in our classrooms and workplaces to change it;
- Change the culture within astronomy to remove the stigma associated with disability and to value accessibility as a human right;
- Promote the development and use of access tools and software; and
- Build community among disabled astronomers and students.
Karen A. Knierman
Term: Aug 2018 – Jun 2021