The University of Manchester’s Disabled Staff Network organised a ground-breaking one-day national conference called What Are We Hiding?, for and about disabled staff. Melanie Sharpe was Chair of the Conference Steering Group. The conference was held on Friday 6th June 2014 on the University’s main campus. The conference focussed on the experiences of disabled people with hidden impairments and invisible disabilities, working at higher education institutions (HEIs) across the UK. This was a great success with over 100 people attending from all over the country, all of whom gave very positive feedback!

At this conference, Hamied Haroon and Anna Charles-Jones jointly led a session on “Disabled Staff Networks”. They talked about their experiences of chairing the Disabled Staff Network at The University of Manchester and co-chairing the Disabled Staff Forum at Manchester Metropolitan University, respectively.

During this session Hamied presented his initial proposals for a national super-network/association of disabled staff networks. Please see Hamied’s PowerPoint slides here.

Everyone in the session was very supportive about the proposals, and so the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF DISABLED STAFF NETWORKS (NADSN) was launched!

Tragically, just over a week after our Conference took place, Deb Viney died. Hamied had the privilege of meeting Deb in person only once, and she was clearly a very passionate figure, and respected for all the right reasons. Deb’s passing meant a great loss for those who knew her and for those who benefited from her tireless efforts. Hamied dedicated the launch of this national association to Deb’s memory.

NADSN has a dedicated JISCMail discussion list. Subscribing to this list is the way to “join” NADSN. Membership will be open to individuals as well as representatives of networks/organisations to begin with.

A Founding Steering Group will assess and decide how NADSN will be structured and function.