We share a vision of making academia more accessible for individuals with disabilities and chronic conditions. We believe that a fair representation of academics with disabilities and chronic conditions requires a change within academia overall. Many aspects of academic life (frequent moving, long working hours, constant exposure to competitive thinking, etc.) are challenging for all academics, but particularly so for those with disabilities and chronic conditions. We see ourselves as a platform for solutions. We are joining forces to fight discrimination. Addressing the needs of academics with disabilities and chronic conditions does not imply demanding preferential treatment. Rather, failing to promote us due to the misconception that someone with a chronic illness or disability cannot “endure” the stress associated with an academic position constitutes discrimination.
We work with academics at all career stages (Ph.D. students, research assistants, postdocs, lecturers, professors, etc.). We welcome anyone who self-identifies as living with a disability(ies) and/or chronic condition(s), and anyone who feels like they can benefit from the support of our network to join us. As you will see from our Team section, our members represent a wide range of visible and invisible disabilities and chronic conditions, both physical and mental. We also welcome those who may not identify as disabled or those that feel they have a chronic condition but have not been diagnosed.
Here are some examples of when you might want to ask the network for advice:
- You are a person who is d/Deaf who teaches but has difficulty understanding the students’ questions without an interpreter or other form of communication support.
- You would like to attend a conference, but you cannot find a taxi company that is able to accommodate your wheelchair, or there are no elevators in the conference building, or there is no accessible hotel in the immediate area.
- You are red-green colour-blind and you cannot interpret graphs in some publications.
- You have a specific learning difficulty such as dyslexia or dyspraxia and you need someone to proofread a short publication, or you need help looking for this kind of assistance.
- You have a visual impairment and you cannot make out aspects of PowerPoint presentations, or you have difficulties reading mathematical formulae.
- Your supervisor has concerns about whether your disability or condition raises health and safety issues in the lab and you need support to communicate that this is not the case.
- You have ADHD or CFS and cannot work the expected number of hours a day.
- You are encountering workplace harassment or humiliation because of your disability or condition.
- You are so nervous before presentations that you cannot cope with typical strategies (e.g. meditation, etc.).
- You asked your university to pay for the special equipment that you need, but you are encountering institutional barriers.
Another part of our work involves working with scientists who are not directly affected by a disability or chronic condition themselves but are interested in making their academic environments and activities more accessible and inclusive for everyone. We will support you with strategies to make your lab and your publications more accessible for individuals with disabilities and chronic conditions.
We cannot give you legal advice as we are not trained staff; we are affected individuals ourselves. Therefore, our advice is informal in the form of peer support and problem-solving. Please see our “disclaimer” for more details.
Our efforts are grounded in the fundamental belief that academia benefits from greater diversity. To this end, we work for the necessary conditions so that scientists with disabilities and chronic conditions can be heard and thrive.