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International Day of Disabled People 2020: celebrating our disabled community at Queen Mary

This Thursday, 3 December is the International Day of Disabled People (IDoDP, or International Day of Persons with Disabilities). To mark this important day at Queen Mary, some of our wonderful disabled students and staff are creating role model profiles, to share a bit about themselves, their experiences, and what they want the Queen Mary community to know about disability and disabled people.

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We hope that by sharing these role model profiles, we can help increase the visibility of our disabled students and staff and their diverse experiences and perspectives.

If you think you might be interested in becoming a disabled role model at Queen Mary, please get in touch with Daisy Crowfoot, who works in Queen Mary's Equality, Diversity and Inclusion team.

The importance of role models and representation

Visible representation of diverse disabled people across our institutions, in the media, and across society matters: it can help other disabled people feel seen and valued. If you never see or hear people like yourself represented in wider society, you can feel invisible.

Visible role models can help us create a community that is representative of diverse experiences and lives. There is no single way to be visible or a role model, but all visibility matters. We hope these role model profiles are just one of the first steps.

Not all disabilities are visible

The theme for the International Day of Disabled People this year is 'not all disabilities are visible'. This theme aims to spread awareness and understanding of disabilities that are not immediately apparent, such as mental health conditions, chronic pain or fatigue, diabetes, neurological, developmental or learning differences (like autism, ADHD, dyslexia), mobility, speech, visual or hearing impairments, and brain injuries, among others.

In the UK, 1 in 5 people have a disability and it is estimated that between 70 per cent and 80 per cent of these people have a ‘hidden’ or ‘invisible’ disability1.

One of our brilliant role models Samantha Osborne talks about the importance of being able to have open and honest conversations about hidden disabilities. PhD student Liam Arnull shares his experience of taking on the challenge of doctoral-level study with dyslexia. Or read about Emily Yates (accessibility consultant, journalist and Queen Mary alumna) who was an accessibility consultant for the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games, and was recently included in the Shaw Trusts's Power 100 list of the most influential disabled people in the UK for her work championing accessibility and inclusion.

Further information and support

  • If you would like to create your own role model profile, please contact Daisy Crowfoot.
  • Sunflower lanyards are available for any student and staff member who may wish to discreetly signal to others that they have a disability and/or mental or physical health condition. 
  • You can access support through Queen Mary's Disability and Dyslexia Service.
  • The EDI team will shortly be publishing guidance about how to offer support to people who experience a range of disabilities and conditions and respond inclusively to their individual needs.

https://hiddendisabilitiesstore.com/what-is-a-hidden-disability (80%) and https://disability-studies.leeds.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/sites/40/library/brookes-NUJ-Hidden-disabilities-Report-plus-Lena.pdf (70%).