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Conversations about the lack of diversity in academia need to include the needs and experiences of students and staff with disabilities.
Last year, a group of researchers – including Syreeta Nolan and Ava Gurba – decided to organize a series of online talks and panel sessions to discuss some of the challenges experienced by disabled people in academia. The success of this event led to the creation of Disabled in Higher Ed, an online platform that celebrates and empowers disabled individuals in higher education. Here, Linda Corcoran, a masters student at University College Cork and a member of the Disabled in Higher Ed team, shares her experience, advice and hopes about how academia can be made more accessible.
What has the response to Disabled in Higher Ed been like since you launched last summer?
The response has been amazing. We’ve received so much support and a number of people have written to us saying things like: “I thought I was the only person struggling being a disabled person in academia, and this has made me feel less alone.” We’ve also been contacted by faculty and staff asking how they can make their work or departments more accessible. It’s showed us that there’s a real need for an organization like Disabled in Higher Ed. One of the main things we want to highlight is how disability intersects with other minority identities. So, this February to celebrate Black History Month, we hosted another series of talks and discussions focusing on the experiences of students and academics who are Black and disabled, which has also been really well received.