22 Jul 2015 NADSN workshop at NADP IC15

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NADSN Workshop at the NADP International Conference 2015

Wednesday 22nd July 2015


The National Association of Disability Practitioners (NADP) is holding an International Conference on 20th-23rd July 2015 entitled “Working for disability equality in Higher Education – the global perspective“. This will be held in Manchester, UK, at the Mercure Manchester Piccadilly Hotel.

NADP IC15 Programme   |   NADP IC15 Session Descriptions

As part of this conference, the National Association of Disabled Staff Networks (NADSN) will be running a one-hour panel-led Workshop (Workshop 16 in Parallel Workshop Session 4):

  • National Association of Disabled Staff Networks (NADSN) – Experiences from our Disabled Staff Networks across the UK
  • Date & Time: Wednesday 22nd July 2015, 1.45pm – 2.45pm

Description of this Workshop (also on pages 30-31 of the Session Descriptions):

The University of Manchester (UoM) established its Disabled Staff Network (DSN) in 2006, one of the earliest in the country. From the beginning, the Network was run for and by disabled staff with autonomy and independence. One of the Network’s first achievements was to secure the University’s commitment to provide dedicated support and advice for disabled staff. UoM became the first of its kind to make this commitment, and built upon the excellent services it already provided to disabled students. Since then, the DSN grew from strength to strength, giving it a reputation for being active, supportive and successful. Over the years, the DSN was approached by disabled staff and Equality & Diversity representatives at various organisations in the sector around the UK wishing to learn from their experiences. These enquiries led on to the idea of holding a national event to bring disabled staff together and learn from each other.

UoM’s DSN organised and hosted the first ever one-day national conference of the UK’s disabled workforce, on 6th June 2014 in Manchester. The theme of this conference was reflected by its title, “What Are We Hiding?”, focussing on staff with “hidden” disabilities and the “hidden” contributions of disabled staff to the nation’s economy and society. The conference was targeted at disabled people working in higher education, but open to everyone interested. The event was a resounding success, attracting delegates from near and far and from all sectors (public, private, voluntary and social).

During the conference workshop on “Disabled Staff Networks”, proposals were presented for a national super-network/association of disabled staff networks as an umbrella organisation to share experiences and good practice, to examine challenges and opportunities, to arrange activities and events, and to represent disabled staff on a national level. All attendees agreed with the proposals and were very keen to be involved.

Hence, the National Association of Disabled Staff Networks (NADSN) was launched!

Though NADSN is open to all interested organisations, the Association is focused on institutions of higher and further education and their respective disabled staff networks (DSNs). The current membership includes universities, colleges, students’ unions, NHS trusts and authorities, sports bodies, the BBC, charities, etc. Representatives of these organisations, from all corners of the UK, along with representatives of the Equality Challenge Unit and the National Association of Disability Practitioners have formed a Founding Steering Group to establish NADSN and decide its strategy.

In this session, an overview of NADSN will be presented. Then a few NADSN members will present case studies of their respective DSNs, reflecting a spectrum of realisation between aspiration and success. This will be followed by a panel discussion on the pros and cons of the approaches and practices of various DSNs. We will explore issues such as disclosure, confidentiality, whether or not to involve non-disabled staff, geographical spread of the organisation, home/distance workers, attendance at meetings and events, engagement of members, inclusion of staff with “invisible” impairments and those on long-term disability-related sick leave, influence on institutional policies and procedures, etc.

The following members of the NADSN Founding Steering Group will be on this Workshop panel:

  • Linda Robson – Co-Chair, EnablingStaff@OU, The Open University
  • Dr Hamied Haroon – Founder & Convenor, NADSN – Co-Chair, Disabled Staff Network, The University of Manchester
  • Melanie Sharpe – Co-Chair, Disabled Staff Network, The University of Manchester
  • Jacquie Nicholson – Convenor, Disabled Staff Network, University of Edinburgh
  • Mona Patel – E&D Advisor, Disabled Staff Forum, Manchester Metropolitan University
  • Stuart Moore – Advisor, AHEAD, Health Education England
  • Dr Nicola Martin – Director, NADP – Principal Lecturer, London South Bank University

The panel will be chaired by Linda Robson


*** JOURNAL PUBLICATION ***

Linda Robson, Mona Patel and Jacquie Nicholson co-authored a journal article about this workshop, on behalf of NADSN, which is now published in NADP‘s Journal of Inclusive Practice in Further and Higher Education (JIPFHE) 2016, Volume 7, Pages 28-33 (PDF | Word).

Many CONGRATULATIONS to Linda, Mona and Jacquie on this awesome achievement!!!


Here is a photo of the panel at the Workshop:

NADP IC15 NADSN Workshop Panel

NADSN’s Workshop Panel: (from left to right) Dr Nicola Martin, Stuart Moore, Mona Patel, Linda Robson, Jacquie Nicholson, Melanie Sharpe, and Dr Hamied Haroon

Recent Posts

NADSN Black Lives Matter Statement

The tragic killing of George Floyd and others in the USA[1] along with the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement serves to remind us that there are continued inequalities and fundamental differences that exist within our society.  Differences which are not acceptable.

The National Association of Disabled Staff Networks (NADSN) stands in solidarity with the BLM movement in speaking out against racial injustices and inequalities faced by our communities in the UK and beyond[2].

The pandemic has served to highlight further racial disparities in the UK. Death rates from COVID-19 were higher for Black and Asian ethnic groups when compared to White ethnic groups. This disproportionate impact is multiplied for Disabled Black and Asian people. The Public Health England Report found that structural racism plays a part.

“Together We Can – and Will – Transform”.[3]

Our purpose as a super-network remains vital.  As members, we seek to inspire support and success.  As a community, we share our opinions, values, culture and best practice and deepen our understanding of each other, our world and how we can have a positive impact. At this challenging time, we urge all our members to look out for each other and empower one another. When we work in collaboration, we can achieve great change.

Ableism Has Much in Common with Racism.

We understand that ableism and racism are not equivalent.  However, the experiences of ethnic minorities and Disabled people have some similarities. Disabled people regularly face systemic and institutional discrimination within society, education, work, and healthcare settings. We have been pitied, abused, excluded, stereotyped and met with disdain and platitudes. Disabled people have been underrepresented and misrepresented in entertainment and media. Our narratives and achievements have been appropriated and used as inspiration for non-disabled people. These forms of barriers are compounded for Disabled people from ethnic minority backgrounds, particularly those of us with a mental health condition or those of us who are neurodiverse.

Our Work.

Throughout our work, we strive to embed an intersectional understanding and approach. In 2019, we co-hosted a National Intersectionality Conference with the LGBT+ Network of Networks in Higher Education. We also appointed an Intersectionality Lead and two Intersectionality Partners onto our diverse Steering Committee. We will continue to work to better understand the inequalities and barriers Disabled people from ethnic minorities face and work to challenge and combat these. We will continue to work in partnership to support all members of our community, as well as seeking to set an example for others.

We strive to be a part of the solution.


[1] The wave of protests in the USA over the killing of George Floyd are the outbursts of anger and injustice that have erupted after the deaths of many other black Americans whilst in police custody. Data: US ‘Mapping Police Violence’ – https://mappingpoliceviolence.org/ and in the UK since 1990, 184 people from ethnic minorities have died as a result of police actions (20 due to police shootings and 164 in custody).  https://www.inquest.org.uk/bame-deaths-in-police-custody

[2]Many of the Black people killed by police are disabled. Inquest notes that ethnic minorities were twice as likely to die after restraint or use of force, and twice as likely to die if they had a mental health condition. https://rudermanfoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/MediaStudy-PoliceDisability_final-final.pdf

[3] Slogan: “Together we can – and will – transform” – https://blacklivesmatter.com/


This paper is also available as a Word docx and PDF.


For Further Details

Email: uk.nadsn@gmail.com | Twitter: @nadsn_uk | Facebook: NatAssDSN | Web: nadsn-uk.org

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