The 18 November – 20 December 2021 is National Disability History Month, along with International Day of Persons with Disabilities on Friday 3 December 2021. In previous years we have joined in this celebration and additionally celebrated Mental Health Awareness in May.
However, after receiving feedback that staff and students were not always able to engage with the November/December celebrations because of closure days and holidays, these celebrations were merged so that, as a university, we will celebrate Disability Recognition Month during the month of May 2022.
In the coming weeks, as we look to May 2022, we welcome activities from Faculties and Departments wishing to mark the National and International celebrations. From January 2022 we will be sharing information on how staff and students can engage with the planning and delivery of university-wide celebrations in May. There will also be funding opportunities for the delivery of local activities.
We continue to strive to create an inclusive work and study environment for our Disabled staff and students. In our Review of Support for Disabled Staff in 2019, we outlined our commitment to deliver an inclusive environment and have been working on the actions set out in this plan.
In the 2020/21 academic year, we launched our toolkit for supporting disabled staff which provides an introduction to disability, case studies, and guidance and support on making reasonable adjustments. Alongside the toolkit, we developed a Reasonable Adjustment Passport to support staff and managers to discuss, agree and record reasonable adjustments. As part of our Let’s be Clear about EDI webinar series, we delivered sessions on reasonable adjustments and embracing neurodiversity.
We saw the establishment of the Neurodiversity Staff Network which provides a forum of support and resources for neurodivergent staff. The Autism Social Network for students has also grown from strength to strength. The network aims to promote a sense of community amongst autistic students, provide an environment for students to engage in fun activities and share their experiences at university. This is alongside expert support provided to all disabled students through Disability Support Services. We also ran a programme of health and wellbeing events as part of our HealthyU campaign.
During this academic year, we will be focusing on support for neurodiverse staff and students as one of our EDI priorities, as well as continuing to ensure our wider community of disabled staff and students are included in all aspects of university life.
We look forward to celebrating UoN Disability History Month in May 2022, in the meantime we encourage you to engage with the recordings and materials from May 2021’s Celebrations, and explore the Health and Wellbeing events which are running as part of the HealthyU campaign.
Robert Mokaya, Pro-vice Chancellor for Global Engagement
17 November 2021