Team:IISER Kolkata/Inclusivity

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A large section of the global population doesn’t have access to the most basic science education and tools. Due to which they are unable to participate in creating new knowledge. We here at IISER Kolkata understand the need to create a more welcoming scientific atmosphere where everyone should practice science irrespective of their background. We have tried to ensure that we can reach the maximum number of people and empower them to start a conversation in science, think scientifically, and appreciate nature and science’s beauty. To achieve this motto, we conducted various outreach activities, which are briefly discussed below.

Disabled in STEM

Around 93-150 million children of age group 0-14 years are living with disabilities [1]. A large section of these students never attends school. Of those who participate in primary schooling, very few continue to attend higher education. While many factors affect this underrepresentation, and we have to cover a long journey towards making a welcoming education environment, the journey starts with small steps.

As individuals, we always look up to someone we can relate to, who feels like ourselves, and we have them as role models. We aspire to be like them; we try to work on things that people similar to us are doing. As young children, most of us wanted to perceive the profession of our parents or be a teacher, right?. Because that was what we were aware of, they were the ones we could look forward to. The confusion got lesser as we grew up and had a chance to look forward to more variety of people around us. Finally, we are in a carrier field where we are!

Imagine what if you never had come across the career you are working in or the subject you are studying. Would you have been able to be where you are?. Probably, No!. The igem blog "A letter to my role model" [2]by Henrik Johansen clearly highlights the importance of a role model for an individual. It highlights the level of impact a role model can have, by just being there, by just being visible. To individuals in the minority, mear visibility of a relatable person can assure them that they are not alone and they can do it.

Disabilities can be physical or mental; most individuals with mental disabilities do not report it, primarily due to the social stigma associated with it. Knowing a person with similar challenges can help individuals with mental disabilities to overcome the social stigma and be themselves.

With this understanding of the importance of a role model in one's life, we launched the campaign Disabled in STEM (#Disabled_In_STEM). The campaign was run in two segments.

Segment One - Highlighting Scientists with Disabilities

The first segment highlighted eminent scientists with disabilities. It targeted to achieve our first motto - To Inspire young students with disabilities to pursue science. The series of social media posts highlighted the contributions of scientists with disabilities to science and society, the challenges they overcame. It highlighted the fact that having a disability does not prevent you from practising your passion for science. Irrespective of your identity, you can practice and excel in science. The series highlighted a very diverse group of scientists with different challenges. From scientists with mental challenges like Paranoid schizophrenia and depression to physical challenges like motor paralysis and deafness. From hereditary disabilities like autism and colour blindness to disabilities due to diseases like Polio and Arthritis to loss of limbs in an accident. The series highlighted 10 scientists (07 male and 03 female) working in different branches of STEM.

We started with our scientist with the beautiful mind - John Nash. He battled mental illness and won the 1996 Nobel prize in Economics for his contribution to Game theory. We featured John W. Cornforth, whose hearing impairment guided his way into chemistry laboratory work as he could perform chemical experiments without having his deafness as a barrier. The life of Dorothy Hodgkin is incredibly inspiring. Her iron-hearted determination and pursuit of her research despite her increasingly frail disposition is a testament to the strength of one's will in the face of adversity. The life and contributions of various other eminent scientists like Stephan Hawking, Temple Grandin, Nikolaas Tinbergen, Solomon Lefschetz, Harold B. Hartley and Florence B Seibert were highlighted in this segment. We completed the series by featuring John Dalton; for him, his unusual perception instead became a source of inspiration to explore questions that were thus far unanswered. He did research on color blindness with which he was himself affected.

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Posters highlighting few Scientists with Disabilities

The scientists highlighted in the first segment continue to inspire most and are role models for many and would become role models for many more to pursue their passion. But as discussed earlier, multiple challenges prevent students from pursuing Higher education in STEM. Accessibility is one of the significant issues. As we saw from the scientists in the first segment, disabilities can be of various types and may require different levels of assistance. Finding solutions may take some time, but we can start by playing our minor roles in making things accessible.

However, a solution cannot be designed without understanding the problem. Most people are generally unaware of the challenges an individual with disabilities may face and how they can be helped. Hence, this leads to the development of stereotypes and ignorance towards individuals with disabilities. So, Creating awareness among the general public about the challenges faced by current students in STEM can help people design solutions and think with a new perspective while planning educational events, material, etc.

Segment two - Highlighting Students with Disabilities

With the Motto - To Educate the general public about the challenges currently faced by students pursuing higher education in STEM fields, create awareness about it and Impact their lives by spreading awareness about the possible solutions, we launched the second segment of the campaign. The second segment highlights the students with disabilities pursuing their higher education in STEM fields. The series explores their love for science, their motivation to pursue scientific research, their experience of being in STEM, things that made them feel comfortable or supported in their journey, and their expectations or suggestions to improve the general accessibility.

The students are interviewed through a google form survey. The form is designed to be easily accessible. The questions and the data in the form are available in text and audio format. The questions can be answered in text or as an audio note. To answer the questions in audio format, respondent has to add a plugin "Talk and Comment" in their Google Chrome browser. Note that we have verified the app; however, ultimately, the plugin is a third-party application and should be used at the individual's own risk. Honoring the participants' privacy, the form allows them to submit answers to questions they are comfortable in. The form also provides an option to review the content about their information before it is released on social media.

To ensure we are doing our surveys ethically without hurting anyone’s sentiments and by following the ethics of involving human subjects, we approached our institutional ethics committee to approve our survey form. Our survey form was approved by Dr. Malancha Ta - Member secretary of the Institutional ethics committee. We also reached out to the iGEM's inclusion and diversity committee for seeking suggestions to improve the survey form. We got valuable guidance from Dr. Anne S. Meyer (Chairperson I&D committee). Quoting a line from the email conversation with her -

"How terrific to see that your team will be working to improve accessibility for disabled people in STEM! This is such a great idea, and I really appreciate that you reached out for advice."
- Dr. Anne S. Meyer

We are thankful to the I&D committee for their valuable feedback to improve our survey form. We plan to continue this campaign even after the iGEM jamboree. Hence, the form is open to responses. If you know someone who identifies themselves as Disabled in STEM, please share this form with them. Click here to fill the form.

Each response enabled us to educate and create an impact on our society. The section exploring their passion for science unfurled the beauty of science and its potential, Inspiring people to learn and practice science. Actions that improved accessibility for our participants or made them feel supported can be practised by our society to create a supportive environment where everyone feels welcomed. There is still a lot more room for improvement inaccessibility, but as Naoto Kan says - "If you are unable to understand the cause of a problem, it is impossible to solve it.", it is difficult for people without disabilities to design reliable solutions as they often fail to properly understand the problem. Hence, we have asked our participants who thoroughly understand the difficulties to provide us with some suggestions or express their expectations that our society could practice improving the general accessibility. The information obtained from this section's responses will help us propagate the solutions to the proper authorities to implement them and create a welcoming and inclusive atmosphere.

Here are the posters of a couple of participants that are released on our social media after the participants' approval.

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Posters of individual students

A kind feedback from one of the participants of our survey.

“It's a very noble initiative and must reach the masses so that people like me get encouraged and motivated after getting to know such stories. I am myself looking forward to hear out more of such stories once those get featured in your column. I am sure I will get to learn from those stories as every such story is different and every such fight shown is special and this is the best way to make sure that those stories get revealed to this world and people get to know such stories.”
- Ghanshyam Pandey (He/Him)

Let's make STEM accessible together.

After going through the experience and suggestions of the participants in our survey and by doing some additional research through existing interviews of individuals with Disabilities in STEM we have tried to chalk down some suggestions to facilitate inclusivity.

Let's work together to create an inclusive workspace. We understand there is a long way to go, but a journey of a thousand miles starts with single steps. Let us see how we as an individual can take those small steps through our actions to begin our journey together.

  • If you see that someone is struggling, don't hesitate to express your observation and offer help. Similarly, ask for help whenever and wherever you need it.
  • If you are conducting a seminar, event, etc. If the event permits, try to explore the opportunities of running it in hybrid mode (online cum offline) to be widely accessible. Additionally, it's better to provide a detailed schedule of any event well in advance so that people can plan out their medication and other programs accordingly. If you are an attendee, feel free to ask for the schedules if not provided. If you are uncomfortable traveling, enquire about the possibility of a live telecast or a recorded version being made available.
  • As a teacher, please encourage students to reach out to you for any help about classes or anything they would like to share with you. Try to understand their stance and plan the teaching accordingly. At the same time, it's essential that, as a student, you reach out to your teacher if you are struggling with anything and need help.
  • Encourage people from diverse backgrounds to take up leadership roles to influence people to act more profoundly to create an inclusive workspace.

Some suggestions for educational organisations

  • Set up a cell where you can discuss and meet people with similar interests, with similar abilities, share their experiences, challenges and understand each other. It can be a center for diversity run by the organisation. The cell can also be the place that takes care of the additional accessories required to facilitate students, like providing a wheelchair, etc.
  • Educating staff (teaching and non-teaching) about disabilities and how to interact with the students equally. This can prevent the students from getting into uncomfortable situations.
  • Having a specially trained consultant to guide students and staff can be made available in educational institutes.
  • If your organisation provides any additional assistance/ scholarship/ facilities for people with disabilities, do highlight them on your website or make them easily accessible at one place so that maximum students can avail those facilities.

One of the participants of our survey highlighted the need of focussing on the roots, that is educating and creating awareness at the primary education level. Primary education organisations should try to incorporate the following guidelines.

  • Inclusion of value education in the curriculum.
  • Encourage all students to participate in sports and co-curricular activities, irrespective of physical abilities. Try to be their additional support if required.
  • Promote students to ask for help, and educate them about the importance of doing so.
  • Plan customised assignments for students with special needs.

Our small actions can play a pivotal role in someone's life. Many times, people do not need exceptional accessories but rather need some patience from you. Which I believe everyone can try to practice. If you need additional support or assistance, it does not make you any less competent or intelligent than others. Every individual requires a different form and level of support and help. It's crucial to communicate your problems and understand the challenges faced to work upon a possible solution and work it out together.

Future prospects

In addition to the experiences of our participants, we asked them to rate the frequency of facing difficulty to access different attributes of STEM education like - Academic material, Laboratory courses, and doing scientific research. Till now we have received very few responses. Our participants are geographically limited to India, Germany, and Mexico and include a few individuals with physical disabilities and invisible mental disabilities. Given the fact that each individual with a disability may face unique challenges, the absence of diversity in the data prevents us from drawing strong reliable conclusions. We are working towards spreading the survey across diverse groups through networking on various social platforms and establishing contacts with NGOs to reach our target audience with ease.

However, based on the limited data we have, we want to inform you that all of our participants expressed that they face difficulty accessing academic material and accessing the lab course sometimes only. However, the frequency of encountering difficulties while doing independent research works was observed to be higher. This can be attributed to the design of the instruments used for conducting scientific research. We need to come up with new designs to improve accessibility in STEM labs. They propose the following steps to improve accessibility for doing scientific research.

  • Incorporation of voice commands to operate machines and to get readings.
  • Use of colour sensing apps like ColourSense to enable visually impaired individuals to practice science.
  • Incorporation of braille code in lab instruments.
  • Design of mobile platforms to adjust the height of the instrument according to the individual's need.

We look forward to more involvement of science students to take up projects to design scientific instruments to increase accessibility.

After receiving a sufficient number of responses we plan to summarise the potential steps that can be taken by various educational institutes and share them with the administrative authorities to enable them to implement them at their organisations. We encourage future iGEM teams to take create awareness about disability and its challenges at their college and move towards creating an inclusive atmosphere.

We have provided the suggestions based on the interpretation of the data obtained through responses to our survey and by reading various articles, blogs, and interviews to understand the possible solutions in depth. We have launched this initiative with the aim to support and encourage inclusivity in STEM. We do not intend to hurt anyone.

Together, we can make Science more profound, robust, inclusive, and accessible.

Foldscope: A gateway to the microscopic world.

Education is a fundamental right, and every child has the right to get an education. Due to supportive government policies like mid-day meals and distribution of school uniforms In recent years the number of children going to schools has increased. However, does attending school guarantee quality education?. The UNICEF website says

“ Schooling does not always lead to learning. Worldwide, there are more non-learners in school than out of school.” [3]

Many schools lack trained teachers and basic teaching facilities. There are ideal schools in place, but the cost of education is not affordable by all. This often prevents children from poor socio-economic backgrounds to lack quality education, preventing them from exploring their interests. An estimated 153 million children worldwide are orphans ([4]). These children are often cared for by NGOs or government-run orphanages. Most of these organisations depend on external funds, which are the bare minimum to provide these children with their essential needs.

There is one orphanage near our institute. The children over there seemed to lack something important, something crucial - Quality Education. On inquiry, we came to know that most of the students are enrolled in nearby schools. However, the facilities available there are minimal. Many primary schools don't have basic scientific tools like microscopes, mainly due to insufficient funds. This prevents these children from exploring science and their curiosity. In the past, multiple groups of students have conducted short scientific workshops and demonstrations to ignite the scientific temper and interest in the children and enable them to appreciate the science around them. However, these workshops happened twice or thrice a year and often lasted for a maximum of four to five hours. The spark for science was ignited, but what next?, there was very little that these children would explore once we (organizing students) head back to our college.

We started thing of ways where these children would be able to learn and explore nature by themselves. What if we equip them with the instruments to do science?. The idea was fascinating but equally challenging. Most of the scientific instruments are costly and are very delicate. We needed something cheap, something easy to use, something where the science done would be of more care than the instrument itself. We started searching for the existing solutions. While doing so, we came across this wonderful product that was designed to make science more accessible - The Foldscope by Manu Prakash and Jim Cybulski.

Foldscope is a paper microscope assembled by paper folding (Origami). The device has a magnification power of 140X. It can be used to visualize bacterias, fabric, plant tissues, and many more to explore the microscopic world around. Images produced by Foldscope can be easily projected on any surface like a book, wall by simply coupling it with a mobile phone or a light source. It also comes with the facility to easily attach the mobile camera to gain additional control on the captured image through the mobile phone camera, to record movies of a moving organism, etc. [5]

Most importantly, the microscope is completely portable, waterproof, and doesn't require any sophisticated instruments to create slides. This further expands the potential of this device which can be carried in a small compass box. Can you guess the cost of such a powerful device??. It's just 2 US Dollars.

Hurray! So there we were with the solution. Without further delay, we obtained some units of foldscopes and started exploring their potential. We were incredibly fascinated by the potential it had. The information booklet/user manual which came with the Foldscope was in English. As most of the children were enrolled in local government schools, where Bengali is the primary teaching language, they are often not comfortable in English. To overcome the barrier, we translated the manual to Bengali. (Click here to download Bengali manual)

We contacted the caretaker and expressed our willingness to conduct a workshop to demonstrate the use of this device, which was wholeheartedly welcomed. On the day of the workshop, we started by assembling the Foldscope. Given that it was complete paper origami, it was fun to assemble it.

Foldscope being assembled: 1) The paper sheet has groves to cut out the paper fragments. 2)The fragments are torn out of the provided sheet 3) The paper pieces are folded to produce Foldscope.

After assembling the device, we discussed the microscopic world around us. We discussed the tiny size of bacterias, the ability to zoom into leaves, etc. They were amazed but could not really appreciate it as they had never visualized it earlier. So, we moved ahead to the fundamental part - magnifying things. We started by showing the pre-made slide of the fern rhizome. The beauty of cell arrangement and the level of magnification made them understand what we actually meant by the beauty of the microscopic world. We explained to them how they could focus the image and place sides. Now, it was time to explore; one of the students bought a leaf from a mango tree and said he wanted to see the stomata. He explained that he has studied in class the tiny pores on the leaf that act like plants' noses to breathe. We went ahead to create a thin layer and taught them the process of creating a slide. We handed over the device to these students to mount the slides themselves and adjust the focus. They were really curious to visualize the pores. Finally, we were able to visualize the kidney-shaped stomata.

Magnifying through the foldscope: Cells in a fern rhizome (Left), Mango leaf with stomata visible as translucent coffee beans.

The glimpse of the stomata made them plunge in joy. They were curious to explore more. On asking what they would like to see next, a whole unique bunch of answers started coming up, from the bacteria in the water to the mask's fabric. We left the foldscopes with them to explore all their curiosity. Since then, children have used it to visualise various things taught in schools, from onion peel to pollen grains, and have explored their own interests.

It was a deeply satisfying experience to have contributed to their life in some form.

Photo from the Ashram (Orphanage): Four individuals are sitting around in chairs around a table. A boy from an orphanage is watching through the foldscope, while the caretaker (old man) is waiting for his chance to see through the device.

Future prospects

From the experience of this workshop, the caretaker, who is an old man, was equally interested and amazed by the microscopic visuals which he had never seen in his lifetime. we understood that the potential of this Foldscope is not just lifted to learning science for students but is far beyond to explore the nature around. It can be easily used by anyone, from a small kid to an old man. Why not give a glimpse of the microscopic world to old people as well? Why not engage them in discovering a new perspective of life?. We were unable to reach old-age homes due to covid restrictions, but we look forward to reaching out to them as soon as possible. Foldscope offers a tremendous opportunity to everyone to discover and participate in creating new knowledge without any barrier. We would encourage future iGEM teams to use this device as an opportunity to educate and empower all people to practice science.

Digital Accessibility

From shopping for your favourite goods to choosing a suitable life partner everything is getting digitalised. From the beginning of the COVID pandemic, a large section of the world was under lockdown, where digitalization has reached its peak, from schooling to corporate offices everything has shifted online. Digitalization has created a plethora of opportunities. But in this long run of digitalization are we leaving someone behind? Are we creating additional challenges for someone?. Probably yes, people with visual, hearing, or cognitive disabilities may struggle to access content on these digital platforms. Moreover, senior citizens whose auditory and visual capabilities decline with age also face challenges to access digital platforms. So what should be done?

To improve accessibility for our content on websites and our social media platforms, we implemented some healthy practices. Let's discuss each of these practices and their outcome in detail.

Use of colours

About 8% of Аll men and about 0.5% of all women suffer from colour blindness (colour vision deficiency). This means changes that your neighbour or one of your classmates is colourblind are very high. Individuals with colour deficiency are unable to distinguish between one or more colours based on their type of defect. There are a few different types of colour deficiency that can be broadly separated into three categories: red-green colourblindness, blue-yellow colour blindness, and the much more rare complete colour blindness. 99% of all colourblind people are suffering from red-green colourblindness. Inspired by the work of the iGEM Leiden 2020 team, we have ensured that our wiki is also colourblind friendly. By incorporating the following points.

  1. Use of colour deficient friendly colours.

    Maximum of colourblind individuals suffer from red-green colourblindness (deuteranopia). These individuals are unable to distinguish between red and green colours. We have used yellow and blue as the primary colour for designing our website. Most of people with color blindness can clearly see blue and yellow colours and can distinguish them. We the following image generated via an online simulator shows the view of a person with deuteranopia.

    Comparison of Visualisation of our website for individuals without any colour deficiency and for individuals with deuteranopia (red-green colour deficiency)

    The text and the backgrounds are designed to have high contrast. We have tried our best to avoid using red and green colours together as these are not easily distinguishable for most people with colour blindness. We also ensured that our social media posters are colourblind friendly.

    Some scientific figures conventionally use colours like red and green to represent data, for example, Heat maps. These data are difficult to be visualised by people with colour deficiency, hence we have ensured to produce charts with colours that can be easily visualised by everyone or have provided an option to visualize the image in black and white monochrome (which is visible to everyone).

    Use of colours combination of Yellow-Blue, Red-Blue and Red-Blue to enable easy data visualisation
  2. Easy data visualization

    Colours are widely used to distinguish various data in the form of charts and curves. People with Monochromacy or Dichromacy may distinguish shades of colours. Still, people with complete color blindness (Anomalous trichromacy) can struggle to understand data represented through colours. We ensured that the data could be visually distinguished by adding different patterns in addition to colours in the plots to overcome this.

Captions for images

The prevalence of distance visual impairment is 3.44%, of whom 0.49% are blind, and 2.95% have MSVI (moderate to severe visual impairment). Visually challenged people cannot see and adequately use screen-readers to access social media and browse through websites. Images often play a crucial role in understanding textual information. As visually challenged people cannot see the pictures, they can lose a vital information segment. To overcome this, we can provide a later text for an image or the image description. The screen reader can read the altered text (image description) associated with the Image to help the user visualize it.

The altered text should be descriptive. It should contain some details of the Image to enable the reader to picture it. We have captioned all the images on our website and social media posts. Let us understand it by an example below.


Good Alter text: "An orange colour poster with a cream colour design. It has a circular cropped photo of a girl wearing a traditional green sari with golden borders and simple traditional ornaments. The poster reads, "iGEM IISER Kolkata wishes you Happy Onam, May this Onam bring you happiness and prosperity"."

Bad alter text: "Happy Onam."

For cases where we cannot add the altered text to images, for example, we have added audio notes to the pictures in Instagram stories.

Use of hashtags

The content that is being generated must reach the targeted audience. Most social media platforms have the feature to add hashtags to their posts and search relevant posts by searching for hashtags. Most of the images posted on social media do not have alternative texts. To enable people using the screen readers to find posts with alternate texts, we should add #captioned in our social media pages if we have added alternate text to the attached images. This makes our content to be easily found on social media.

Additionally, while using hashtags containing more than one word, ensure that the first letter of each work is written in Capitals. Because if we write all the words in the same case, the screen reader will read the complete hashtag as one word. This will make no sense and make it difficult to understand the relevance of the post. Given below are some examples.

Good hashtags: #AntibioticResistance
Bad hashtag : #antibioticresistance

Captions for video and audio

Over 5% of the world's population – or 430 million people – require rehabilitation to address their 'disabling' hearing loss (432 million adults and 34 million children). In this time of rapid digitalization, a lot of content is delivered in videos and audio. These multimedia are often inaccessible to this population. To make the audio/video content accessible to hearing disabled people, we have added captions to all the video and audio content released to the public.

Gene Gala

The number of girl students in schools has seen a healthy rise in recent years. Between 2000 and 2015, the number of girls for every 100 boys in primary education rose from 92 to 97 and from 91 to 97 in secondary education [8]. Increase in awareness about STEM fields has led to an increase in participation in higher education. However this has not translated to a career in STEM. In order to ensure the holistic development of STEM as a sector which attracts women equivocally, it is important to focus on job creation for women. Educating girls about new technologies and diverse scientific fields will enable them to pursue a wide range of career options, and guide future young generations to pursue their career path.

With the motto to shape young minds and contribute to the repertoire of their knowledge on the fundamentals of synthetic biology iGEM IISER Kolkata in collaboration with iGEM IISER Tirupati organised “Gene Gala”. Gene gala was a 5-day workshop, which received the attendance of 90 female students from various schools under the Directorate of Education, Delhi, India. The workshop included multiple interactive activities and a series of lectures followed by discussion sessions. We have received valuable feedback from students and teachers. Their enthusiasm throughout the 5-day long workshop assures us that female representation will surely increase in the future.

Find details of the activities and student feedbacks at Gene Gala section on our education page


Language is a medium to express our thoughts and feelings. Language is the most powerful tool and deeply impacts everyone. It has the potential to incorporate change in society. We have tried to incorporate diverse languages and meaningful use of words to create a wider impact.

Use of gender-neutral language

We often use words like chairman to address the head of the organisations, or fireman to those who fight the fire. However, such gender-specific terms fail to recognise the women who are in these very occupations. It can be attributed to the fact that till a few decades back only males were allowed to take up these roles in society. However, now the scenario has changed, people with diverse gender identities are taking up their passion and are taking multiple roles in society. It is time to incorporate these changes in our languages as well by using a gender-neutral language in all forms of communication.

We have tried our best to use gender-neutral language throughout the wiki and other documentations. Normally used patriarchal terms like the milkman, headmaster, etc were replaced with more gender-neutral words like milk person, headteacher, etc. We have followed the United Nations guidelines for inclusive language[9]. We encourage other iGEM teams to follow this practice.

The language of Art

Art and music are the creative languages for all. It is an expression of feelings and knowledge that cannot be expressed in words, it is a language of the heart. As the famous artist – Georgia O'Keeffe says “I found I could say things with colour and shapes that I couldn't say any other way - things I had no words for.” Here is one of the beautiful entries that we received.

An art by Sanchari Ray

We went further to express science in a universal language - Music. “Where words fail, music speaks”. With a joint motto of communicating synthetic biology to the masses, we collaborated with the music club and Literature club of IISER Kolkata to organise “Syn-Chrome”. The event gave students an opportunity to express science in form of music. There were no restrictions where participants were allowed to explore different forms of music from parodification to composing their own song. You can listen to one of the entries here.

Use of Regional Languages


The first Indian to receive The Nobel prize, Sir Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman says “We must teach science in our mother tongue. Otherwise, science will become a highbrow activity. It will not be an activity in which all people can participate.” It highlights the importance of communicating science in our regional language. Most of the scientific content is available only in English, which limits its reach to the non-English speaking population. Understanding complex scientific concepts in our mother tongue is easier and hence can be learned faster. With this understanding and motto to promote science education in our mother tongue we organised “SynKTBio”. If focused on creating awareness about the importance, applicability, and ethical issues related to synthetic biology. It was a three-hour webinar where we received participation from over 43 students from three different schools from Asansol and Kolkata, India. Please visit our education page for more information.


Most of the people in India depend on mass communication media like newspapers and magazines to get new information. Newspapers and magazines in local languages are highly preferred compared to their English counterparts. To create awareness about the problem of bovine mastitis among the locals, we have submitted an article in Bengali to Paschim Banga Vigyan Mancha, highlighting the problem of bovine mastitis, associated antimicrobial resistance, and our approach to tackling it. Paschim Banga Vigyan Mancha is the largest people science organization in India and millions of people of West Bengal read it. Our article will be published in its upcoming bi-monthly edition.


As a part of a collaboration with iGEM CCU Taiwan, we translated their children's storybook to the Assamese language, which is an official language of the state of Assam, India. Team iGEM CCU Taiwan typeset the book and have shared it with us. Which we shared further with children from Assam. We are glad that we were able to bridge the language barrier and communicate the storybook of our fellow team in Assamese.

A glimpse of the children's storybook translated in Assamese. (The complete PDF is available on our collaboration page )

Promotional videos

Our major stakeholders are dairy farmers. Most of these dairy farmers are based locally and are only comfortable in their local; languages. To increase the reach of our project to our stakeholders, we have created our project promotional video in 4 languages, namely- Bengali, English, Malayalam, and Hindi. Our teammates shared the videos with people in their local area to create awareness about the problem of bovine mastitis and make people understand our synthetic biology-oriented approach to tackle this huge problem. We also made tweets in multiple languages to enable people with diverse backgrounds to understand our project.

Find the promotional videos below

Use of simple English

A large number of readers have English as their second language, where they are comfortable with basic words in English. The use of difficult words can limit the accessibility of our content to these people. Hence, we have ensured to write our documentation in simple English, that is easily understandable for an individual with a basic level of English education.

Educating our senior citizens

Antibiotics are widely used for the treatment of various bacterial diseases. However, very little information is available to the general public about its working mechanism and the potential side effects if they are not consumed properly. Doctors always advise us to complete the entire course of antibiotics. However, many people discontinue the course as soon as the symptoms of the disease stop. This is mainly because the general public is unaware of the importance of completing the total dose of antibiotics and the potential harm caused by discontinuing the antibiotics.

It is observed that older people are more prone to diseases and hence are frequently administered with antibiotics. They must take their antibiotic dosage properly. We took this opportunity to educate and spread awareness about antibiotic usage and the phenomenon of antibiotic resistance caused due to incomplete dosage of antibiotics. We created a few simple posters highlighting the science of antibiotics and the Dos and Don'ts for antibiotic use. The posters were prepared in three languages, namely - English, Bengali and Marathi. These posters were circulated in local orphanages. As we were not allowed to visit the old age home due to covid restrictions, The caretaker was asked to explain the importance of antibiotics to the elderly people.


Apart from the campaigns and initiatives stated above, we have ensured to be inclusive in all aspects. Here we are listing down a few more activities and practices we did to encourage inclusion and diversity.

Translation to Braille

As a part of the collaboration, we provided a brief summary of the problem we are tackling and our proposed solution to team iGEM Crete in English and Bengali. They have translated it to a braille script to create a global database. The braille translation will enable us to communicate our project to people with visual disabilities. Find the braille translation here.

Product Design

Through Human practice surveys and in-person interactions with farmers, we found out that most of the farmers don't have access to testing laboratories. Hence we are developing a rapid, efficient, cost-effective, and portable paper-based colourimetric detection kit. We understand that our detection kit involves colour change as an important parameter to draw a valid result, which may create problems for people with colour deficiency. To overcome this we are designing our kit to produce blue colour on detecting the infection in the sample, as most individuals with a colour deficiency can see blue colour. As additional support for those with blue colour deficiency or complete colour blindness (Anomalous trichromacy), we plan to use the colourSense, a program proposed by Balraj Rathod, an alumni of IISER Kolkata. The program detects different colours and produces unique audio signals to enable the user to listen to colours.

Diversity within team

Our team is a giant hotspot of diversity. Our team can speak and write in 9 different languages: English, Hindi, Bengali, Marathi, Malayalam, Assamese, Tamil, Telugu, and Odia. We have origins from a very different part of India and bring an extensive range of cultural and linguistic diversity to the team. This cultural and geographic diversity enabled us to think of various simple local challenges that our product design may face, the level of education about the diseases, the prevalence of the conditions, and the state government's policies in various states. We wholeheartedly enjoy traditional festivities together and enjoy the diversity we hold within.

Display of personal/preffered gender pronouns

Personal gender pronouns or preffered gender pronouns are the set of pronouns that an individual prefers to be addressed with to show their gender identity. Using a person's correct pronouns fosters an inclusive environment and affirms a person's gender identity. By displaying our gender pronouns we want to create a space where everyone feels included and can openly display their gender identity. Lets make displaying Personal gender pronouns a new normal!

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