Accessibility of astronomy journal papers



  • Wanda Diaz Merced 1-European Gravitational Observatory, Cascina , Pisa Italy, 56127; 2-Universidad del Sagrado Corazon, San Juan , Puerto Rico 00926; 3-Astroparticle and Cosmology Laboratory. 10 Rue Alice Domon et Léonie Duquet, 75013 Paris, France
  • Thelma Oppelt 4-Human Science Research Council, Inclusive Economic Development Research Program, Cape Town ZA, 8000; 5-Nelson Mandela University, Department of Psychology, Gqberha ZA, 6019
  • Mockiewicz J Arizona State University, Astronomy Department Tempe, AZ 85287-1404
  • Hidehiko Agata National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, Public Relations Center, National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ), 2-21-1 Osawa, Mitaka, Tokyo 181-8588, Japan



Accessibility, Accessible Digital Interfases, Scientific Inclusion, Scientific Journals


The Working Group on Accessibility and Disability (WGAD) of the American Astronomical Society published a comprehensive list of accessibility recommendations for professional astronomy journals, based on the first-hand experience of both higher education students and professional astronomers. The recommendations include accessibility strategies intended to improve access for a wide range of disabled and neurodiverse readers, with particular attention to the way readers with visual, motor, and cognitive disabilities cope with information in a digital interface. In this paper we use the tools of critical discourse analysis (CDA) to compare the recommended strategies to the digital discursive modes currently employed by leading astronomy journals. Raters analyzed discourse modes for a sample of 256 astronomy journal articles, including the usage of linguistic indicators, digital architecture, and information display. We identify emergent categories of access barriers faced by disabled astronomers, and identify strategies in the journal papers addressing those emergent categories. We compare the discourse modes currently used in astronomy publications with the access barriers and recommended strategies described by the WGAD document. Our analysis found that discourses in astronomical publications were typically constituted with the expectation of various shared commonalities between the author and the reader, including: 1. Same sensorial modality of interaction; 2. Same experiential knowledge as authors; 3. Same access to information as authors; 4. Same linguistic knowledge as authors; 5. Same cognitive strategies as authors; 6. Same socioeconomic status and background. This case study may serve as a baseline for future studies on how inaccessible textual discourse, digital architecture, and digital display in STEM journals enhance professional inequalities. Examining how current standard journal standards impact the transition to different professional career stages would help to identify alternate discursive strategies which would improve accessibility.


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Author Biography

Mockiewicz J, Arizona State University, Astronomy Department Tempe, AZ 85287-1404

Tecnician University of France 





How to Cite

Diaz Merced, W., Oppelt, T., J, M. ., & Agata, H. . (2022). Accessibility of astronomy journal papers: 10.55434/CBI.2022.20105. Caribbean Journal of Sciences and Technology, 10(2), 31–41.



Letter to the editor