Access All Areas in Labs Project

Even assistance dogs like Sampson can access labs with the right training and PPE.

(Thanks to Empower Ability Consulting for permission to use Sampson's photo)

This video summarises the survey & interviews.

The research project is now complete. The script for the video can be found here.

If you need a closed captioned video please click here and click on the cc button at the bottom of screen.

Funded by

Our project is working to improve access for disabled scientists working in labs.

When people walk into a building, they assume they will be able to open doors, walk up stairs to get to the next level, go to the toilet when needed. Unfortunately, disabled people cannot make these assumptions in many buildings, even modern ones. Buildings that house facilities that address more technical needs such as laboratories are often even more inaccessible. This lack of access means there are too few disabled scientists in labs today. Whilst approximately 20% of the working age adults have a disability, only around 3.8% of UK academics working in science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM) are disabled.

We believe scientists who are D/deaf, disabled or who have long-term illnesses should be able to work in laboratory settings. We think that this aspect of diversity is currently often overlooked. There are solvable barriers to working in labs and these negatively impact on the diversity of the scientists working in labs. This lack of diversity reduces the quality and relevance of the science being done. 

Designing accessible labs now

We worked together with the Cell and Gene Therapy (CGT) Catapult on how to design such laboratories. CGT Catapult is an organisation that supports innovation of cell and gene therapies that are amongst the most complex and advanced medical treatments under development and are revolutionising our approach to treating a wide range of diseases that currently have very poor or no effective intervention.  The CGT Catapult, Edinburgh Centre, aimed to embed ED&I principles in the establishment of a 'Universal Design' laboratory, which is intended to enable talent to flourish irrespective of disability.  If you would like to see a snapshot of what such a laboratory usually looks like, please take our virtual tour.

Our projects

We have just completed a large survey with 152 people with an interest in lab accessibility (over half of whom were disabled). This survey asked about how to design accessible labs, and choose the right furniture and equipment. We wanted to find out how to adapt lab protocols, equipment, working practices, training, and culture to ensure maximum accessibility. We know that lab work needs to be shared with the world, so we also asked about how to ensure consultations, conferences, publications, and web pages are also accessible. 

We also asked people with access solutions to take part in interviews with us so we can create a library of case studies on how barriers to access can be overcome.

The survey and interviews fed into a set of disability access guidelines for labs.

If you have any questions about this project please email  Dr Katherine Deane or write to us at: 

School of Health Sciences 
University of East Anglia

Please sign up for updates if you would be willing to provide your email address in order to:

  • Receive sent a copy of the research report and access guidelines
  • Take part in an interview about access solutions
  • Be contacted by our team about other access research projects.