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Welcome to the Disability Staff Network

The Disability Staff Network is run by and for staff with a disability and is open to all staff including PGRs who identify as disabled and wish to support each other, as well as sharing an interest in progressing disability equality and inclusion.

*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.


Our Aims

  • To connect and bring together staff with disabilities in a safe, confidential and informal environment to share knowledge and experiences
  • To provide a collective voice to inform and input into the University’s disability inclusion work at a strategic and local level through working with the Disability Strategy Steering Group and the HR Equality Diversity & Inclusion team
  • To raise the profile of disability inclusion to help address barriers and challenges and bring about positive change

What We Do

  • Provide informal support through peer-to-peer support group(s)
  • Signpost colleagues to the various means of support currently available to staff
  • Run events and activities to raise awareness on disability issues and promote the needs and interests of disabled staff
  • Consult with and lobby the university to bring about culture change
  • Lobby the university to bring about policy change, procedural developments and strategic initiatives
  • Collate and gather colleagues’ concerns and observations and feed them into the Equality Diversity & Inclusion team, HR or the relevant group for reflection where appropriate
  • Align with University ED&I priorities to help create an inclusive and diverse working environment by raising the profile of disabled staff, especially in under-represented areas and in relation to intersectional characteristics

Note that as a voluntary network, we are unable to provide intensive one-to-one support for individuals, but we will be able to signpost you to the most appropriate support and are keen to hear about your experiences and reflect on how they can inform our work.


Events

We aim to stage a series of events and meetings throughout the year, to conclude with an AGM in the summer term. Within the current pandemic restrictions, our events will be online until we can - and hope to - host on campus and meet you in person.

Upcoming events

Friday 19 March 1pm - 2pm. An insight into addressing ableism in the workplace by Love Language

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Book your place on Eventbrite (click to open). The Booking Form closes at 2pm on Thursday 18 March.

This event is open to all University of Sheffield staff including PGRs. Note: You will need to register with your sheffield.ac.uk email address.

Love Language is a BSL Interpreting and Access Consultancy company which aims to create opportunities for Deaf and hearing cultures to exist together, by nurturing inclusive environments for the benefit of all. Join the Co-Directors , Naomi and Rez, where they will use their personal experiences and professional encounters to provide some insight into ableism in the workplace and suggest useful tools to promote positive change towards a more inclusive environment. 

Love Language’s diverse workforce, made up of creative and like-minded Deaf and hearing people, embodies the values and principles they advocate, ensuring that all of their services are informed by experience, expertise and a plurality of perspectives.  Although Love Language’s roots are within the Deaf community, this presentation aims to touch upon ableism from a broader perspective and help transform good intentions into 360-degree access for all.

Please let us know on the booking form if you require a BSL Event Interpreter. Love Language will arrange this, so please let us know by 12 March. If you have other specific accessibility requirements that we may be able to accommodate, please also let us know on the booking form.

The event will be hosted on Google Meet. Registered attendees will receive an email on the morning of the event with the link to join. Google Meet can provide live automatic captioning.


Joining the Network

To be added to the confidential mailing list to receive news, updates and information on our current work and upcoming events, please fill in this quick form (click to open). You will then have the opportunity to join the Peer Support Google Group.

For general enquiries, please email: disabilitystaffnetwork@sheffield.ac.uk

Coffee Meetings for Members
These are an informal opportunity to meet other members of the network and the committee. You are welcome to just have a friendly chat, suggest topics for conversation or bring conversational disability-related matters to the attention of those in the space.  Members will be emailed the link to join via Google Meet a few days beforehand - no need to register.

Next meetings:

Thursday 25 March 2021, 3pm - 4pm

Thursday 22 April 2021, 3pm - 4pm

Thursday 20 May 2021, 3pm - 4pm


Meet the Committee

Our responsibility is to create a safe space for members to meet and get to know each other, and to represent the interests, ideas and concerns of members and feed this into the wider institutional work on progressing disability equality and inclusion.

Interim Chair Professor Brendan Stone I’m Deputy Vice President for Education and an academic in the School of English. I also chair the University’s Disability Strategy Steering Group. I have worked extensively in a wide range of mental health contexts and am currently an Associate Non-Executive Director of Sheffield’s NHS Trust for mental health. I’m also a founding director of the mental health charity, Sheffield Flourish. More information here (click to open)
Secretary Dr Sarah Hale

I’m a Programme Director for the integrated foundation year which prepares mature and ‘non-traditional’ students for over forty different degrees across most faculties at TUoS, and I am Deputy Director of Learning and Teaching in the Department for Lifelong Learning, where I also convene and teach social sciences and academic skills modules. My most recent research explores the role of foundation years in working class students’ experience of, and outcomes from, higher education. I have over twenty years’ experience as Secretary to a wide range of voluntary and quasi-statutory organisations, and work with the Chair to manage the business of the Network in accordance with its governing documents.

I was diagnosed as autistic in 2015, and am passionate about promoting understanding of and respect for neurodiversity across the institution.

Communication Officer

Professor Dominic McHugh

I’m a Professor in Musicology and the Director of Knowledge Exchange for Music, as well as EDI Lead for my department.

I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes more than 32 years ago and have also experienced anxiety around the impact of diabetes on my life and wellbeing. Until moving to an insulin pump in 2020, I had to administer 5 or more injections per day.  I am acutely aware of how a disability can make day-to-day life more complicated and stressful and I hope to work with the Network to make the University a more inclusive environment for disabled people

Interim Communication Officer Sarah Statham

I’ve worked in the Equality Diversity & Inclusion team for the past 5 years and sit on the Disability Strategy Steering Group Committee. I am committed to promoting the disabled voice (‘Nothing about us without us’), and to raising awareness and understanding of disability and difference in an honest, creative and progressive way to help bring about positive change and improve the working environment of our staff and students.

In 2016, I was diagnosed with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) - a fluctuating, debilitating neurological condition which particularly affects the nervous and immune systems. I live with chronic fatigue and pain, cognitive impairments and physical limitations. I regularly use walking aids and am an occasional wheelchair user.

Events & Outreach Dr Tim Dolmansley

I work in Mechanical Engineering as a University teacher. I returned to the University after almost a decade working in the energy industry playing with fire (designing combustion systems for gas turbines).

I am dyslexic and very keen to support others with any form of learning difference and/or a physical or mental disability. I organise the events for the network and hope that we will be able to provide you with a space to “let your hair down” with others who understand what it is like to have a disability and to provide some interesting talks for you to attend. I am also keen to see change at the university to better support staff with disabilities.

Welfare Officer Kate Caine

I work in the University Library to provide staff development and business services. Before joining TUoS I built up extensive experience across a broad range of sectors including manufacturing, retail, broadcasting and local government all of which has enriched the knowledge that I bring to this role, enabling me to build good relationships with a wide range of people.

I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis 3 years ago and I am committed to helping others that experience significant challenges in their lives.

Peer Support Officer Megan Morris Postgraduate Research Support Officer
School of East Asian Studies
Committee Representative Professor Janet Brown Chair in Medical Oncology
Department of Oncology & Metabolism

Information on our Launch Event

To mark the launch of the University’s Disability Staff Network, Interim Chair Professor Brendan Stone opened our first event 'Creating an Inclusive Workplace' on 25 November and introduced the aims and objectives of the network and set the context of the current wider institutional work on disability equality and inclusion.  The guest speaker was disability advocate Kathryn Littlewood from Disability Sheffield, a user-led charity that supports disabled people to have a voice. For more information on Disability Sheffield (click to open)

 Brendan and Kathryn's presentations were recorded. You can view them here (click to open).

University Disability Inclusion Strategy & Action Plan

In January 2020, a Task & Finish Group began to collate and scope out ideas and actions to progress disability inclusion across the institution. As of October 2020, the newly formed University Disability Strategy Steering Group now continues this work, reporting regularly to the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee (EDIC), and will inform and oversee the implementation of the University-wide strategy and action plan for staff and students. 

Professor Brendan Stone continues as Chair and the immediate priority of the group will be to work on the University-wide consultation on disability inclusion with staff and students, postponed from April due to lockdown and the summer break. This is now scheduled to open at the end of November and will be open to all. The work done to date will be shared for your feedback and you will have the opportunity to input your thoughts and ideas on progressing disability inclusion. 

Both the Disability Staff Network and Disabled Students’ Committee are represented on the Strategy Steering Group.  Members of this group have a disability themselves and/or have responsibility for areas of work which include a focus on disability equality and inclusion.

More information: Disability Strategy Steering Group (click to open)


Disability History Month 2020

DHMlogo2020

An annual, month-long observance of the history of the disability rights movement, and commemoration of the achievements of disabled people, aims to promote disabled people's rights and their struggle for equality now and in the past.

From 18 November to 18 December, this year’s theme is Access.

Here at TUoS, we celebrated with online events, reading resources, research projects, digital accessibility updates, tips to be a disability ally & the story of a trailblazing alumna. Find our more via our Staff feature (click to open)