Working Group on Accessibility and Disability (WGAD)


To advance the goals given in its charge, WGAD will initially pursue the following projects. As progress is made on these issues, further items of concern will be added.

  1. Establish a presence on the AAS website; 
  2. Establish an accessible, independent website to contain accessibility resources and recommendations;
  3. Develop best practices guides on accessibility and inclusion for departments, institutions, and conference organizers;
  4. Develop resources for disabled undergraduate and graduate students;
  5. Build active collaborations with the CSMA, SGMA, and the CSWA by appointing and accepting liaisons to and from each of these committees whose primary responsibility will be to take an intersectional approach to disability justice;
  6. Work with AAS journals toward more accessible formats; and
  7. Increase awareness in the community of barriers to engagement making our field inaccessible and work to eliminate the stigma associated with so many kinds of disability.


WGAD is currently working to develop recommendations for meeting(1) and database accessibility. We have released a set of recommendations for publications and are working with AAS Publishing and the IOP to implement these recommendations. Members of WGAD are working with the AAS to provide accessibility suggestions for an intersectional site visit program(2) at the departmental level. For action items for individuals, please see our resources page.

Notes: Lead contacts: 1.) J. Monkiewicz; 2.) A. Aarnio. 

Publication Accessibility Recommendations

In this document, we identify barriers to engagement with publications for people with a wide range of ability, cognition, and learning style. We give suggestions for their removal and make higher-level suggestions for further identifying barriers unlisted by us here and staying on top of anticipating the access needs of the community.

  • Navigation: small clickable elements present a barrier for those with motor impairments, documents without proper tagging for navigation impede screen reader navigation, inconsistency in formats/organization can cause disorientation/confusion, equations that aren't compatible with screen reader math interpreters or aren't easy to navigate back to/re-read require memorization that makes engaging with the text much more difficult;  
  • Content: information accessibility necessitates clarity and attention to organization, descriptive text helps non-visual learners;
  • Layout and style: users should be able to easily re-format documents as needed (e.g., font choice/size), layouts and formats should be simple, easily navigable, easily manipulable, and accessibility should be prioritized;
  • Graphics and charts: use colorblind intuitive palettes, figure captions should be as descriptive as possible, data from figures and tables should be made available in readily manipulable format for, e.g., sonification; 
  • Multimodal access: multiple formats engage the broadest range of learning styles.

Recommendations for authors: consider accessibility of figures and text. Employ a program like Color Oracle to check whether your figures convey their point to people of all color visions. Fully describe figures in the captions. Use descriptive text and be as clear as possible in explanations.

Recommendations for the publication: train staff on accessibility, provide recommendations to authors as part of the submission instructions, and ask referees to assess a paper's accessibility per provided rubric. Survey the community regarding access needs, perform user-centered studies to assess whether currently accessible, repeat assessments periodically as technologies evolve.