To decide how to celebrate and mark Disability History Month this year, members of Kent Union, staff and students from a variety of divisions, networks, and groups across the Medway and Canterbury campuses met frequently throughout the term to plan and collaborate. Sharing ideas and looking at how far we have come has been part of the process in continuing to think of new and inspiring ways not only to celebrate Disability History Month, but also to identify areas where there work is still needed to continue to grow and develop new inclusive ways to remove barriers.
Exhibition and film screening
Student Engagement and Communications Officer Natalia Crisanti and Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic Strategy, Planning, and Performance) Professor Georgina Randsley de Moura, introduced the screening of a number of short videos called ‘Our Stories’ (BSL interpreted) with students and staff, current and past, talking about their experiences of disability. The films emphasise considering and anticipating the seen and unseen needs of all, with people listening to one another carefully and understanding that each person is the authority on their own best conditions for thriving. With such a wealth of inspirational people at Kent it has been a great opportunity to take time to focus and reflect on our community and what disability means to us as a University. Janice Markey, Kent’s Head of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion notes that “the exhibition and screening [which took place on 6 December] are an inspiring impetus for us in our work to create an environment at Kent which is welcoming and inclusive for all”. For more on the screening and exhibition opening, read the blogpost summarising this event. You can also watch a 7 minute video version of the timeline (narrated, with closed captions), or read a slightly abridged version on Kent’s Disability History Month webpage.
Chloe Timms author talk
Former student Chloe Timms returned to Kent to give a talk on her debut novel ‘The Seawomen’ (2022). Chloe discussed about how she became a published author alongside the challenges of being a disabled writer. To find out more about her professional journey, visit Chloe Timms’ blog.
Research and career opportunities
Also this month was an opportunity for one of our PhD students to showcase her research with a Virtual Reality Wheelchair Driving Experience, and the Careers and Employability Service hosted a number of online groups for students, including workshops on how to ask for adjustments in the workplace, and sessions on the Change 100 internship scheme, which offers paid summer work placements for students with disabilities.
Finger casting workshop
On the topic of health and wellbeing, a finger casting workshop was held where participants could let their artistic sides show through creating their own finger sculpture and foil embossed artwork. The idea was to encourage awareness and connection with the body through creativity.
Millie Knight – sports champion talk
Kent Union’s focus was on creating opportunities for students to come together and learn from each other. Their events included plant pot painting and a talk from former student, and four-time Paralympic skiing medallist and Karate world champion, Millie Knight. Thomas Freeston, Vice President of Welfare and Community was Kent Union’s lead on DHM, and reflected on the month as an “opportunity to celebrate the achievements of people living with a disability and also raise awareness”.
What’s next? Let’s shape tomorrow together…
Of course, opportunities for discussion and progress are not limited to Disability History Month. You can get involved in many different ways throughout the year. Perhaps through the Staff Disability Network and Student Accessibility Network. Please contact EqualityAndDiversity@kent.ac.uk if you would like to share any ideas or feedback about this year’s disability history month or disability provision in general.
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 Maddy Kendall, Joshua Stevens and Natalia Crisanti, Student Services, 13.12.22