The National Science Foundation reports that people with disabilities are underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) studies and careers. The National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Organization on Disabilities, and other leaders have identified barriers to STEM success to include
- diminished support systems after high school,
- little access to successful role models,
- lack of access to technology,
- inadequate self-advocacy skills,
- inadequate accommodations, and
- low expectations and other negative attitudes on the part of people with whom they interact.
The National Science Foundation and others report evidence-based practices to increase the participation of underrepresented groups in STEM to include
- technology access;
- hands-on STEM activities;
- self-determination skill building;
- college and career preparation activities;
- bridges between academic levels and careers;
- work-based experiences, including research;
- peer, near-peer, and mentor support;
- tutoring; and
- preparing educators and employers to work with people who have disabilities.
The following figure presents a model of how AccessSTEM project interventions are used to lead students with disabilities through critical junctures to pursuing STEM careers.