The government must tackle key barriers to inclusion to ensure equality for disabled staff and students in UK education, the University and College Union (UCU) said today (20 Nov).
The union was speaking ahead of its first ever day of action for disability equality in education tomorrow (Wednesday 21 November), which coincides with the start of Disability History Month (19 November – 22 December).
As part of the day of action, campaigners will head to Westminster to call for action on key issues affecting staff and students in education. These include the need for statutory rights to disability leave and measures to ensure buildings are fully accessible.
The House of Commons event will be hosted by the shadow minister for disabled people, Marsha De Cordova MP, and will take place from 5.30pm – 7.00pm in Committee Room 10. Speakers include the chair of the UCU disabled members’ standing committee Elane Heffernan, NUS disabled students’ officer Rachel O’Brien, Simone Aspis from the Alliance for Inclusive Education (ALLFIE) and Richard Rieser from the Disability History Month campaign.
UCU branches across the country are also organising activities to raise awareness about the issues faced by disabled staff and students, and will tweet their support for the day using the hashtag #includeus.
UCU national head of equalities, Helen Carr, said: ‘Too many disabled people still face major barriers to working and studying in our colleges and universities. Issues such as inaccessible buildings or failures to allow for disability-related absence cause huge stress and frustration for disabled staff who just want to do their jobs effectively.
‘We urgently need to see tougher rules for employers, and a real commitment from government to tackle these issues so we can make our education institutions more accessible for disabled people.’