It was wonderful to welcome students, staff and members of the local community to an exhibition and film screening event on Tuesday 6th December in the Marlowe building on Canterbury campus.
Our Stories: Exhibition
Disability History Month is about amplifying the voices of disabled people, looking back at how things have changed over time, and being realistic and open about how much more progress we’ve yet to make as an institution and as a society. As part of Kent’s Disability History Month celebrations, university staff from various departments worked together to research, create and display a 16 panel timeline depicting shifting attitudes and improved provision and communication about disability throughout Kent’s history to date.
Eve Wilson, former staff member, standing under the panel where she is pictured as one of the first disability advisers to work at the University of Kent in the 1970s.
People seated and standing looking at the hanging panels in the timeline.
People talking and looking at books and written materials displayed in the exhibition.
Our Stories: Films
After a reception in the Marlowe foyer, guests were invited into the lecture theatre to watch a screening of a series of short films made for this year’s Disability History Month at Kent called ‘Our Stories’ which is now available on YouTube. The 8 short films (27 minutes in total) are captioned and include British Sign Language, and feature students, former students and staff talking about their lived experiences of disability and what they wish others understood about living with seen and unseen disabilities to help everyone be more inclusive. The exhibition also features quotes from the film participants, many of whom were present to see their contributions to this project on the big screen with friends, family and colleagues.
The exhibition is up in the Marlowe building foyer until 16 December and everyone is welcome to go in and take a look at the timeline panels, as well as reading materials and a sculpture on display. Every item in the exhibition is audio described so can be accessed online via SoundCloud, and via QR codes on each item displayed in the physical exhibition. If you missed the event or would like to revisit the information, you can watch a video version of the timeline (narrated, with closed captions), or read a slightly abridged version on Kent’s Disability History Month webpage.
When discussing accessibility and provision at Kent there is a lot to be proud of, and yet we know there a lot that remains to fix, improve, change and grow. As stated by Deputy Vice Chancellor Georgina Ransley de Moura who was introducing the films at the screening event: ‘We know that needs and desires change over time as does the research, knowledge and technology which move on to facilitate that change. In our work at Kent, we recognise the importance of both the large scale strategic actions and the power of thousands of community members making small incremental changes in attitudes, behaviour and actions.’
We hope that the work that continues throughout Disability History Month and beyond continues to increase knowledge and inspire further improvement. The conversations we participated in and witnessed at this event showed there is a real appetite for a revolution of honesty and openness about who we are and how our bodies and brains work – where people can bring their whole selves to their workplace and their studies, where we can speak frankly about our physical and psychological needs, boldly claiming what we need to thrive and be well, and relate to one another positively.
If you have any feedback, or want to share your views or your experiences to help us shape that future at Kent, please do contact us at EqualityAndDiversity@kent.ac.uk.
Did you know that Student Support and Wellbeing (SSW) advisers can help students set up the support they need at any time during their studies? Check out this guide on Seeking Support from SSW for more information.
Follow #DHMKent22 and #InclusiveKent on social media for the latest, and if you would like to contribute your experience and perspective to conversations, podcasts or articles on this theme, please email StudentServicesWeb@kent.ac.uk.
Written by Natalia Crisanti, Student Services, 07.12.22