Disability Week 2021 Round-Up

VP Wellbeing & Diversity Alice Goode takes a look back on all the ways you celebrated her Disability Week campaign - which was all about demonstrating that disabled people live full, happy lives just like everyone else.

First of all, I would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who got involved in my Disability Week – to everyone that participated, modelled, came along to the events, or joined online, THANK YOU SO MUCH!!! I literally could not have done this week without you.

The main theme of the week was Disability Looks Like Me, showing the diversity within the disabled community, that disability isn’t always a sad thing to be pitied, and that disabled people live full, happy lives just like everyone else – it just looks slightly different for us.

We started off the week with a Zoom chat where we were joined by Claudia Walder and Emily Sorrell from Able Zine and discussed how they create an accessible work environment for their contributors, and how they came to create and work on Able Zine together. The talk showcased disabled creativity, community and pride.

On Tuesday, we held a panel discussion with Dr. Anica Zeyen, a lecturer in Business and Entrepreneurship and a researcher in chronic pain, and two students – Lucy Ham and Sandra Meunier. The theme was the Disabled Experience, which focused on breaking down barriers between the disabled and non-disabled communities. We spoke about times that we had had positive experiences of being accepted, considered, and included through things being accessible, and also shared negative experiences, and what we wish non-disabled people knew. We discussed the language used around disability – highlighting that words like ‘disabled’ and ‘blind’ aren’t bad words and are actually just descriptors, it’s ok to use them! We had some great contributions from people in the room and a huge number of people join us on the live stream. The full video is on my Instagram @rhsuwellbeing if you want to go and check it out.

On Wednesday, we did an online campaign on A Survival Guide to Being Disabled at Uni, where I shared resources, Instagram accounts, books, podcasts, posts that I had found over the years and had found really useful. When I got my diagnosis I didn’t see anyone like me and I didn’t know another chronically ill or disabled person. My feed was full of non-disabled people and I was missing the disabled community. All that stuff is out there, it just takes a while to find, and that was the inspiration behind this day. All the content that I posted on this day can be found in my story highlights on Instagram if you wish to refer back to these at a later date.

On Thursday, the University's Careers Service took centre stage and ran a workshop in the morning on how and when you should disclose your disability – which is an extremely important topic to get guidance on and receive reassurance that there are places for disabled people in the workforce! In the afternoon the charity, Leonard Cheshire, came to do a talk on how to write a successful application for their Change 100 campaign focused on getting disabled people placements in the workplace and ran drop-in sessions for students to ask any further questions they may have had.

Then on Friday, we had the Disability Looks Like Me Fashion Show in Medicine. Five brilliant volunteers and I took to the catwalk in specially printed t-shirts for the event. The evening was about empowerment and disabled joy. It was a fantastic event and I’m so grateful to all our models, Jemma, Lucy, Sampada, Chiara and Henn! You guys were truly amazing and were all stunning. You can check out the full photo album from the night on the SU Royal Holloway Gigs & Events Facebook page!

Whilst my Disability Week is over, Disability History Month has only just begun. I plan on carrying on the work I began for this campaign throughout Disability History Month and continue to raise awareness and understanding around the lived experience of disabled people!