2021 has been a very busy year for the DISC team as we prepare to bring the project to a conclusion and start to think about how we create a lasting legacy for disabled academics and universities. We are committed to making sure that efforts to create more disability-inclusive research cultures continue beyond the duration of the funded part of DISC.
Part of the legacy is to build a strong foundation within universities and other stakeholders such as UCU of the social model of disability. Our data has shown that generally there is poor understanding of the social model of disability, and disability is often understood through medicalised lenses which direct focus towards the disabled person, rather than analyses of the working environment and culture. We have delivered disability training to three universities, UCU Scotland and a range of private, public, trade unions, and charitable sector organisations sharing the social model of disability and using the evidence base created by DISC to increase understanding of the challenges faced by disabled people and how straightforward it can be to create more inclusive workplaces.
One of the most exciting aspects of DISC has been the creation of innovative training materials. We have piloted these including a dramatic reconstruction of an interview panel and an immersive virtual reality game whereby training participants can experience an open plan office and the sensory issues faced by many disabled academics. We have had excellent feedback from training participants who have appreciated the strong empirical and theoretical basis of our training.
Although DISC will soon draw to a close, we will continue to work on disability inclusion. We have a number of grant proposals in review or under development to continue more funded research in this area and we look forward to rolling out the DISC training to more universities and other employers.
Kate, Programme Director.