Disabled Staff Role Models

Manchester Metropolitan University is committed to ensuring that all its staff and students are able to work in an inclusive environment, regardless of their age, disability, gender, marital status, race, religious belief (or no belief), sexual orientation or transgender status.

Disabled staff are more motivated, efficient and confident in the workplace when they are able to feel supported with their disability. However, disclosure can lead to a feeling of vulnerability so it is not something that is easy for everyone.

The Equality & Diversity Role Models series profiling disabled staff members on ManMetLife was introduced to mark the International Day of Disabled People (3rd Dec) and to highlight the fact that having a disability need not be a barrier to thrive at Manchester Met. We encourage other disabled staff to inform their line manager so that they feel supported and their talents will not go to waste.

The series demonstrates that diversity – and being our authentic selves – is something to be celebrated. No matter what your job role within Manchester Met, if you are disabled and would like to feature as a role model and/or need any advice, please contact equalities@mmu.ac.uk or call us on 0161 247 6494.

Further Guidance for disabled staff or their line managers is available from http://www.mmu.ac.uk/equality-and-diversity/disability/

Josie Elson, Assistant Director of Human Resources, Talent, Engagement & Development


Image: Josie Elson pictured here with Barry Harwood, Senior Lecturer, Employment Law/Equality and Diversity Champion on the University’s Board of Governors and Lorraine Gradwell MBE, Disability Policy and Practice Adviser (keynote speaker) at our International Day of Disabled People (IDDP) event, Dec 2014.

Does being disabled influence your working life? If so, how?
My hearing impairment is a progressive condition and by the time I got to my late 30’s it was causing me real problems in my role in staff development as I often couldn’t hear what delegates on courses were saying. Getting hearing aids made a huge difference – I remember the first time I ran a training session after getting them, I could hear what people were saying, but I couldn’t work out who was saying it! It’s much better now I’m used to them.

Even though I now wear two hearing aids, my hearing impairment means that in some situations and locations I struggle to hear people. The stairwell in All Saints is a good example. If you are talking to me on the way out of the building during a fire evacuation – I’m not ignoring you, I just can’t hear what you are saying!

How easy is it to talk to your colleagues about your disability?
I’m fairly relaxed about talking about my disability. Since I have a haircut that covers my ears, often people are totally unaware that I wear hearing aids and sometimes when I mention my hearing impairment, they are quite surprised. Our fantastic guide for disabled staff (written by the equally fantastic E&D team) advocates that, if you are not comfortable talking about your disability, instead talk about the effects. This is great advice, so I talk about the situations and the environments that make hearing difficult so that they can be avoided wherever possible.

What kind of reasonable adjustments has the University put in place to support you at work?
I have a phone with an adjustable volume setting (which is set at the highest volume). Using other people’s phones is a problem, unless they’ve got one like mine. Apologies to my colleagues whose phones I have used and not reset the volume level!

What advice would you give to other disabled staff or students who may be facing difficulties because of their disability?
The University is genuinely and seriously committed to supporting all of our disabled staff and students so if the environment or the processes and systems you experience are causing you problems I would encourage you to talk to someone who is in a position to help.

What can we all do to make Manchester Met a better place for disabled staff and/or students?
By not thinking about disability as a limiter, we have lots of amazing role models in the Manchester Metropolitan community – staff, students and alumni, who constantly prove that this is not the case.