Project IIRP18

Access All Areas in Labs

A short project to identify the barriers and solutions to access for disabled scientists working in laboratory settings. The project will generate a suite of access guidelines.


It is essential that researchers reflect the diversity of the communities they are working with. Disability access in laboratories is poor and this is particularly shown by the under-representation of disabled academics in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and maths) fields where just 4% are disabled compared to ~20% of the working age population.

This project aims to identify the barriers and find solutions to access in laboratory working environments.

Project Aims


  1. Investigate the experiences of disabled people working in similar laboratories of access barriers and solutions.
  2. Identify and ensure implementation of access solutions for use in a pharmaceutical lab which aims to adhere to the Principles of Universal Design.


  1. Advise the contractors on the design of the laboratory structure and furniture to meet the highest access standards possible.
  2. Advise the contractors on the choice of lab equipment to meet the highest access standards possible.
  3. Survey disabled scientists and those with an interest in lab access to identify barriers and solutions to working in laboratory settings.
  4. Create a variety of access guides and recommendations.

Project Activity

Advice has been given on the structure and equipment being used in the Universal Design Lab.

An international survey has been completed. 163 respondents. Analysis in progress.

Draft guidelines have been created.

Anticipated Impact

Biomedical scientists and university research scientists the two largest groups of the respondents to the survey. We will ensure the lab access guidelines will be relevant to both NHS and university scientific lab setting.

The results of the survey will be published in a peer reviewed journal.

The guidelines will be published online and we will promote their use by the NHS and research funding bodies such as UKRI and The Wellcome Trust.


Click here to read more information about the study


Katherine Deane, University of East Anglia