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SynBio For Everyone: Manuals

SynBio For Everyone from the University of Washington is a nonprofit and RSO that aims to improve accessibility education and reduce STEM educational equity gaps. They design an inclusive, accessible, and the free manual called Biology Essentials: An Interactive, Accessible Approach. In this manual, they aimed to make it accessible by having a sensory approach for the blind and deaf, as well as an approach for those with physical, intellectual, and learning disabilities. Moreover, they wanted to translate this to different languages. Team IGEM RUM has been collaborating with them by translating all the activities into Spanish.

American Sign Language (ASL)

Our purpose for the community is to be able to integrate minority groups, with accommodations, but not different from what we all are, human beings. It is at this point where inclusivity is found, which is one of the most important works of IGEM RUM. Taking into consideration which are the most affected areas within our enclosure is the world without sound, the deaf community. Not only in our university, but these groups are also excluded from many aspects of daily life. That is why we were set to include them in part of our project and to be able to understand each other. With this in mind we decided to create the ASL Dictionary of Synthetic Biology. Here we present basic terms for use in the laboratory and in basic biology classes.

In order to carry out this dictionary we discovered several things. What has affected our project the most is that this community is more difficult to communicate directly with them than we expect. This is why we seek help in the community between student and professional associations in the field of ALS. It is at this time that we receive the help of Diana Laracuente, profesor, educador and professional interpreter. Diana helped us communicate and work with the deaf communities, by the collection of signs of general and synthetic biology obtained from a word bank to translate to ASL. Through meetings we progressed slowly, but surely on the final purpose, to have the dictionary and video to accompany the work.

Additionally, as part of our synthetic biology week, we invited the American Sign Language Student Organization (ASLSO) from the University of Puerto Rico in Aguadilla, to give a workshop about the inclusion of sign language. Approximately 100 students from our campus and different institutions participated in this activity. During this workshop, ASLSO talked about the deaf community, how the students could approach a deaf person in a proper manner and how they could contribute to inclusivity. At the end of this activity the students were able to learn the alphabet and some key words in sign language and ASLSO answered many questions related to some concepts in sign language. Many students were interested in learning American Sign Language (ASL) but did not know where to start. This workshop was an efficient way for these students to take the initiative to learn sign language and learn about inclusivity

Later in the afternoon, we invited Dianna Laracuente, a professional interpreter, and educator, to give us a Basic Sign Language Workshop (ASL) more focused on biological terms. Here, Dianna discussed several ways to sign words that would be commonly used in a biological aspect. Words such as biology, genetic engineering, gene, bacteria, and many others were discussed. After most of their basic concepts were discussed, the students had the opportunity to practice small sentences and present them to all the attending class and teacher. At the end of the workshop the students and the professor remained to discuss other common topics like the importance of expression and how to address different situations. This workshop reminds us of the importance of being inclusive in every aspect as we can. As an interdisciplinary research team, it is crucial for us to include the majority of the population and provide a learning environment for everyone. This is why we strive to create equally diverse learning opportunities for those that for certain reasons find themselves in a disadvantage.

Press the following button to learn more about the rest of the things we accomplished during our SynBio Week 2021.


Finally the team achieved what it had set out to do. This was to include the deaf community in our biological conversation. Using this information, workshops were offered to other colleagues from the university where we all had the opportunity to use the dictionary created and raise awareness of the importance of the inclusion of this community. IGEM-RUM is certain that this is only the beginning of all the other words that can continue to be added and that with the help of all the communities this project can be even more comprehensive.