Washington Update

FASEB Supports NIH Disabilities Subgroup Recommendations

By: Jacqueline Robinson-Hamm
Thursday, February 23, 2023
In early February, FASEB sent comments to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Advisory Committee to the Director (ACD) supporting recommendations presented during the December 2022 ACD meeting from the Working Group on Diversity, Subgroup on Individuals with Disabilities. In its comments, FASEB emphasized key recommendations from the subgroup’s final report that prioritize inclusion of disabled scientists across the scientific ecosystem and in all NIH diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility efforts.

A major recommendation FASEB endorsed is for NIH to establish an Office of Disability Research and a Disability Equity and Access Coordinating Committee. The Office of Disability Research, acting as a central office, would help improve coordination of policies, programs, and research activities across all of NIH, and the Disability Equity and Access Coordinating Committee would enable input from a variety of stakeholders, including representatives from different disability communities.

Furthermore, echoing prior FASEB recommendations, the comments highlight the need for data collection on barriers for scientists with disabilities, as well as a portal of accessibility resources helpful in laboratory settings. Finally, FASEB endorsed the Subgroup’s recommendation to revise the ableist language in the NIH mission statement—specifically to remove “reduce disability” from NIH’s mission. Overall, centering anti-ableism throughout NIH will enhance belonging and inclusion across the scientific workforce.