Disability Equality & Inclusion

We’re committed to enhancing the experiences of our staff and students who have a disability, so that everyone is fully supported to flourish and meet their full potential. 

Disability Equality Steering Group

Continuing on from the work of the Disability Inclusion Task & Finish group, as of October 2020 the Disability Equality Steering Group has worked collaboratively to achieve its objectives and develop a University level disability strategy and action plan. This aims to address the challenges experienced by staff and students with a disability, and reduce differential outcomes in attainment and progression. 

Professor Brendan Stone is Chair of the Disability Equality Steering Group and is passionate about ensuring there are equal opportunities for staff and students across the Higher Education sector.  The group brings together staff and students with relevant knowledge and expertise, many of whom have a disability. It includes representatives from our staff and student networks, the Students’ Union, HR Organisational Development, Student Support Services, Campus Services, Digital Engagement, Faculty and Professional Services ED&I teams and campus trade unions. Membership is listed below as part of the Terms of Reference.

Thank you to all colleagues and students who took part in the consultation for their time, candidness and comprehensive responses. This has provided a clear picture of the priority areas to be addressed alongside evidence of live issues, and rich and constructive information to help inform our actions.

We all have a responsibility to improve our University for our disabled staff and students and I am immensely grateful to you for taking the time to share your experiences with the University, so that we can bring about positive change and make evidence-based solutions that will make a difference across our whole institution

Professor Brendan Stone

Chair of the Disability Equality Steering Group 

University-wide consultation for staff and students

Helping us shape our disability equality strategy and action plan 

At the beginning of this year we asked for your feedback in our Disability Inclusion Consultation survey. Your contributions have helped shape our University's upcoming disability equality action plan.

354 colleagues took part in the survey which provided the opportunity to share views on disability equality and inclusion, give feedback on the work the University has done so far and propose new actions to bring about positive change at our institution.

We have reviewed your feedback and have outlined four key priority themes for staff.

Priorities themes from Staff Survey

  1. Training & guidance to enhance staff understanding of disability, (dis)ableism and anticipatory legal duty
  2. Review the provision of disability support for staff and consider any need for additional support and advice
  3. Policy & process improvement especially on reasonable adjustments and disclosure
  4. Physical inaccessibility was highlighted as a concern by a range of respondents

Student Survey recommendations

Our students received a customised version of the questions later in the spring, having been rescheduled to a more suitable time for them.   Based on the feedback from students, the main recommendations to incorporate into the action planning were:

  • LSPs being followed by academic departments
  • Promote Report and Support
  • More disability awareness training (delivered by disabled people) and allocated time for staff to attend (especially academics - possibly through Elevate)
  • Physical access improvements to continue
  • Digital access (including arrangement of BlackBoard courses etc) improvements to continue
  • More resources for DDSS
  • Retaining the flexibility around learning, teaching and assessment achieved during Covid
  • Student Union - more support for societies and support groups
  • Improved support for disabled staff - improves the 'positive environment for disclosure' for disabled students

Next steps for Disability Equality Steering Group

Further development on an action plan framework has taken place over the summer to incorporate the findings of both the staff and student surveys.  A first draft action plan will be presented to Council Equality Diversity & Inclusion Committee in October.  The strategy and action plan will be launched thereafter in the Autumn semester.

Terms of Reference - Disability Equality Steering Group (DESG) 


If you need help accessing this information or require it in an alternative format, please contact the HR Equality Team on hrequality@sheffield.ac.uk for assistance.


Both the terms ‘disabled staff/student’ and ‘staff/students with a disability’ are used to reflect and respect the differences in individuals’ choice of language and identity.

The definition of disability, under the Equality Act 2010, is “a physical or mental impairment that has a ‘substantial’ and ‘long term’ negative effect on your ability to carry out normal daily activities”.  

At the University of Sheffield, we consider disability in its widest context and this includes, but is not limited to, physical disabilities, neurodiversity / specific learning difficulties / learning differences (e.g dyslexia), autism, mental health conditions, chronic health conditions and sensory impairments and also recognise that not all disabilities are visible or permanent.


Continuing on from the work of the Disability Inclusion Task & Finish group, the Disability Equality Steering Group will convene and work collaboratively to develop a University level disability strategy and action plan that aims to address the challenges experienced by staff and students with a disability, and reduce differential outcomes in attainment and progression. It includes representation from staff and students.

The DESG group will work with, and seek input from, internal stakeholders and external organisations and experts, as appropriate. In particular, the group will consult with the Disabled Students Committee and the Disability Staff Network, both of which have a representative on the group. The group will also be mindful of any recommendations relating to disability made by the Academic Workload Group, and Professor Brendan Stone will be the link between the two.

Confidentiality & Code of Conduct

All data, information and discussions within the DESG group must remain confidential, and must not be circulated or discussed outside of the group unless otherwise agreed.

Views of individuals may vary considerably. All members are to treat each other and/or those with differing views respectfully at all times.


Reports to: Council Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Committee, providing updates at ED&IC meets on 21 October 2021, 23 February 2022 and 16 June 2022.


The Disability Equality Strategy Steering Group will:

  1. Seek to identify and understand key issues relating to disabled staff and students. This will include a University-wide consultation exercise with staff and students
  2. Review and discuss both the findings from the consultation and the proposed considerations from the Task & Finish Group, with the aim of recommending realistic and achievable priorities for action, considering both short-term and long-term actions
  3. Consider a new model for, and the re-launch of, a Disability Staff Network to ensure it is operational and sustainable
  4. Draft an action plan and strategy to be presented to the Council Equality Diversity & Inclusion Committee
  5. Oversee the implementation of the action plan and support the specific objectives of the strategy. To include establishment of a delivery plan and collaboration with a delivery group
  6. To advise the Council Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee, Senate Learning and Teaching Committee, UEB, and University Council on ways to promote disability equality and inclusion at the University, and keep these committees updated on progress

Strategy aims

The Disability Equality Strategy will aim to:

  1. Establish and meet the needs of staff and students with a disability
  2. Create an inclusive culture to ensure that our disabled students and staff are fully supported to flourish and meet their full potential
  3. Bring about culture change by developing actions to enhance university-wide knowledge/understanding and to remove and reduce environmental, attitudinal and organisational barriers at TUOS to level the playing field
  4. Reflect and learn from the ongoing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on our disabled staff and students and continue to develop best practice
  5. Recognise the intersectionality of disability and mental health. However there will be separate working paths to make progress in both areas which are currently at different stages
  6. Educate and empower our community, creating an institution of choice for people with disabilities


The group will meet four times a year between October and June working in between meetings where necessary. The next meetings are 13 September 2021 and 6 December 2021.


Membership of the group brings together staff and students with relevant knowledge and expertise, many of whom have a disability. Membership will ensure representation from stakeholders across the institution.

Chair: Professor Brendan Stone

Steering Group Members:

Organisational Development
Hannah Morgan, Head of Organisational Development (OD)
Zaidah Ahmed, OD Manager Equality Diversity & Inclusion (EDI)
Sarah Statham, OD Adviser Equality Diversity & Inclusion (EDI)
Louise Blee, OD Manager Health & Wellbeing, Mental Health Strategy Lead (Staff)
Anne Saxelby, OD Adviser Health & Wellbeing

Student Support Services
TBC - Student Support Services
Bryan Coleman, Head of Disability and Dyslexia Support Service
Chris Webb, Assistant Director Specific Learning Differences Tutorial Service

Disability Staff Network
Professor Dominic Broomfield-McHugh, Disability Staff Network Chair

Campus Services EFM & Professional Services ED&I Representative
Lisa Woods, Head of Campus Services

Digital Corporate Communications & Digital Accessibility
Steve Thompson, Head of Digital Engagement

Faculty Director ED&I
Professor Katherine Linehan, Faculty Director ED&I Science

Students’ Union
Lauren Simpson-Smillie, Associate Director of Membership
Shona Tulloch, Liberation Officer
Iz Ostrowska, Disabled Students Officer
Emily Gay, Co-Chair Disabled Students’ Committee
Nesta Goulding, Co-Chair Disabled Students’ Committee
Amber Lench, Disabled Students Councillor
Angela Ewurum, Student Representative

Trade Union Representatives
Themesa Neckles (UCU)
Martha Foulds (Unite ED&I)