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Network of Academics with Disabilities and Chronic Conditions

We are Chronically Academic, a network of academics with disabilities and chronic conditions. We welcome members across all academic disciplines. Our aim is to create a network of mutual support and resources for academics with disabilities and chronic conditions and to raise public awareness for our cause. Our team members all have personal experiences with disabilities and/or chronic conditions. We aim to help others with practical advice in finding concrete solutions to the issues they are facing and to share our own experiences. Most of us are early career researchers; however, we look forward to and encourage supporting and mentoring more advanced academics. 

Besides peer support, we are also working to offer an overview of useful resources and to establish a formal mentoring network for academics with disabilities and chronic conditions. We hope to promote a societal attitude shift towards disabled academics. We believe that the current academic system needs to be transformed in order to achieve proportionate employment of academics with disabilities.

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on http://chronicallyacademic.blogspot.de

Intersectional spaces of disabled people of colour in academia

Written by Karim Mitha “Quite rightly”. Two innocuous words that have embedded within them a summation, a decision, a judgement of finality, a presumption. As I write this, on the heels of Mental Health Week at various educational institutions, I’m reflecting on the structures and cultures of workplace environments in terms of the accommodation of neurodiverse people and those with “hidden” disabilities. We live in a neurotypical world, where those who have different frameworks, experiences, patterns of thinking and ways of engaging are labelled as “deviant” or “problematic”. We’re told “it’s time to talk”- yet who is listening? We seek to normalise difference, by stating the importance of...

23.Nov.2018


Designing a Disabled and Ill Researchers’ Network

Written by Kay Guccione (Researcher Mentoring Consultant) and founder members of the University of Sheffield Disabled & Ill Researchers’ Network: Chris Donaldson (PGR in the Medical School), Peter Dory (PGR in English), and Isobel Williams (post-doc in Psychology). Image of the Disabled & Ill Researchers' Network logo which is a blue square with the name of the network and a plus sign on a black circular background. Nobody embarks on a PhD thinking it’s going to be easy, but disability and illness can make researching a thesis that little bit more daunting, exhausting or isolating. The Disabled & Ill Researchers’ Network is a group for postgraduate and postdoctoral researchers who are...

10.Nov.2018


Pushing the Boundaries: Making the Exclusive Inclusive

Written by Amarpreet Kaur Having completed my BA at a very modern and inclusive institution, moving to Cambridge was an eye-opening experience. I moved to Cambridge at a time when I was not worried if I would be able to walk the next day, when being wheelchair-dependent was not an imminent possibility. However, living with a degenerative condition and having passed through that very fog just before my arrival in Cambridge mean that accessibility and inclusivity are never far from my thoughts in this city. For those with mobility considerations, whether chronic or temporary, environmental structures can make the world of difference. Such structures often go unappreciated and are taken for...

22.Oct.2018


Working from Home: Issues and Advice

Written by Calum Carson Recent developments in communications technology and a greater recognition of the importance of a healthy work-life balance has led to a wider number of workers across the world voluntarily working from home. For those experiencing chronic illness and/or disability, however, such working arrangements are an unavoidable reality rather than a choice. For individuals in this position studying and working within a profession such as academia, where long periods of independent research and a lack of day to day working routine are already commonplace, there are a number of issues that can emerge through such experiences that it is important to discuss. From my own...

20.Oct.2018


What neurodiverse, chronically ill and disabled academics do to manage life in academia

Written by Nicole Brown Being chronically ill, neurodiverse, and/or disabled means that adjustments have to be made in life. Quite naturally, the symptoms of illnesses, neurodiversities, and disabilities also affect one’s working life. This is, of course, equally true for academics, although they are often seen to be privileged. The digital health community and advocacy web site The Mighty has recently published a contribution on impolite behavioural strategies that those with chronic illness engage in to protect their health as much as possible. Many of the behaviour patterns mentioned can be transferred directly or in some modified, translated form to serve as coping strategies for...

14.Jul.2018


‘Not What I Paid For’: Ableism, Evaluations and the Academic Life

Written by Aparna Nair It was that time of year again. The semester drew to an end and the university sent us enthusiastic email reminders to get students to evaluate our courses. ‘Evaluate NOW’, screamed the emails and signs posted all over campus. This semester, I caught myself instantly deleting that first notification as well as the later more urgent reminders. It was a futile gesture, since I nonetheless made sure to get my classes to fill in the evaluations. But for the first time in my academic career, I was genuinely anxious about the impending possibility of reading an evaluation report. Admittedly, 2017 was uniquely rough. A stressful year teaching seven courses was complicated...

26.Jun.2018


Disableism in Academia

Written by Sonali Shah Disablism in academia has struck me down twice since I got my PhD and started on the academic career ladder. I am currently in the middle of the second bout, which I will go into later. First, let’s rewind my career trajectory to 2010, when my Nuffield Career Development fellowship in Disability Studies ended. Although I had been at my institution for three years, earned a pretty positive reputation in disability studies and been returned to REF 2008, no other opportunity was found for me and I became unemployed. The fact that I was in the middle of writing my third research monograph (co-authored by a non-disabled prof in Disability Studies – as they all seem to be)...

18.Mar.2018


Access denied: the dark side of prestige

Written by Hannah Gibson ‘In order for others to [be accommodated], who as beings have a different set of requirements, they would have to push for a modification of the environment. Some have to push to be accommodated. Given how able-bodied privilege comes to structure a world (both a physical and social world) then people will disabilities have to push to have their own requirements met.’ ( Sara Ahmed ) Spaces. Each one requires a different physical and intellectual attentiveness. Perhaps you have never thought about how much energy it will take to get from one space to another, how your body responds when faced with slight inclines or uneven paths. The lighting of a space, whether...

07.Jan.2018


Coping strategies for disabled academics: self-acceptance and collective solidarity

Written by Marion Being a disabled academic is not easy. We frequently require considerably more time and effort to achieve the same as other academics and find some things which seem to be trivial for non-disabled colleagues almost impossible. We may need to achieve a lot more than others for the same recognition. We also frequently come up against a lack of understanding or even hostility when we ask for adjustments to overcome the barriers we face. It is very easy to become dispirited and to think all the difficulties are your fault and feel inadequate and incapable. The first strategy is to recognise that you are not to blame and that academia is not particularly friendly and sometimes...

23.Sep.2017


Reasonable adjustments, Access to Work and disabled staff

Written by Wendy Merchant and Stephen D’Evelyn We are two disabled members of staff at a UK university, both involved in an ESRC funded research project called ‘Getting Things Changed’. In our research we are trying to understand the way in which social practices can disable people, and how we can build on that understanding to question and to change practices which get stuck. Our particular strand of this work focuses on the academy itself, since we know that universities are rife with problems for disabled staff and students, and we are of course implicated in those practices. In this blog post, we pose the question: is ‘Access to Work’ the solution for disabled employees? ‘Access to...

17.Sep.2017


Improving access on campus

Written by Katherine Deane I work at the University of East Anglia (UEA) in Norwich, UK. Based in the School of Health Sciences, I’m a Senior Lecturer in Research, working with people to improve their management of long-term conditions. I’m also a wheelchair user. In the 1960s UEA’s campus was designed with the intent of creating a sense of community. Unfortunately, back in the ‘60s, people with disabilities were not considered to be a usual part of the university’s community. So our campus was built without implementing the principles of universal design and included inherent barriers to access. I joined UEA in 2009. As my own disability progressed and I needed to use a wheelchair to get...

22.Jul.2017


The Fog

Written by Ian Trigger warning - mention of suicidal thoughts. Cutting through the fog is what I needed to do. The lone scholar myth persists and is still the model of an academic. Individual achievement and “genius” is what the system is geared to reward. The relentless academic tournament where only a few “win” is exhausting and takes a toll on mental health, especially when things aren’t healthily competitive, but hyper-competitive as they are now. I bought into the lone “genius” scholar model. Probably both consciously and subconsciously. Academia can be isolating and has been for me. My internal dialog has an outsize influence. It has the credibility of a scientist working to falsify...

02.Jul.2017


Reflections on being awarded tenure as a woman with kids and a disability / chronic illness

Written by Holly Witteman We have kindly been given permission to reproduce this from Holly's blog , where you can read the full article. There is no universal experience. In my individual experience, a good partner can make the ‘with kids’ part much easier but the ‘and a disability / chronic illness’ part remains tough. Support helps, but no one else can ever do the daily, relentless work of keeping myself alive in a world and career that isn’t always well-structured for staying healthy. The things that have worked well for me have been: (1) being flexible geographically, even at a cost to my family, (2) being extra disciplined about working hard whenever I can to balance out the times...

02.Jul.2017


Breaking the Stigma

Written by Juan Pablo Ruiz #OktoSay: Let’s Talk Mental Health in Academia About a month ago, Head’s Together launched their #OktoSay campaign to destigmatize mental health in the UK. Around the same time, a study done in Belgium was published that showed that “one in two PhD students suffered from psychological distress, while one in three were at risk of a common psychiatric disorder.” As soon as it was published, I had three people send me the article. It seemed that, at least in my network, I had become the go-to whenever this type of news showed up. This isn’t surprising given that a year ago, I founded my blog and resource, Labmosphere.com , where one of our core pillars is addressing...

29.May.2017


Overcoming Hurdles During My PhD

Written by Alex Deciding to do a PhD is an enormous life decision. It's something that will take over your life for at least three or four years after you start. Overall, it's been an amazing experience for me, and now that I've come out on the other side, with my doctorate in hand, I've had some time to reflect about navigating the experience as a student with a disability. My PhD is in Arts and Humanities, so this post reflects my experiences in that faculty. I have an invisible, physical disability. It's something that varies from day to day. My condition is genetic, which means that it will never go away, and it's something that I've had to learn to cope with. If I'm honest, I didn't...

29.May.2017


You have MS

Written by Stephanie Zihms After 10 months of tingly arms & legs, a bout of optic neuritis, unexplained tiredness and brain fogs, as well as doubting my own sanity – I was finally diagnosed with MS (Multiple Sclerosis). Even though this was not entirely unexpected it was still a shock and at the same time a huge relief. My response turned out to be ‘full on research mode’. I searched the web high and low for information and anything related to MS – funnily enough my parents did the same – must be a family trait. Probably for a good month or so, I was in a haze of information, feelings, uncertainties, insecurities, strength – or to put it bluntly I was one big mess on the inside but very...

14.May.2017


Disability in the Graduate Assistant's Contract

Written by Alyssa Hillary We have kindly been given permission to repost this from: http://yesthattoo.blogspot.co.uk/2016/09/disability-in-graduate-assistants.html Two years ago, I suggested to my graduate assistants union that disability and accommodations should be covered in our contracts. I could understand why it hadn't been there before: It's not the sort of thing most people automatically think of unless they are themselves D/disabled or have a disability. The accommodations/access side is theoretically covered by laws like the Americans With Disabilities Act anyways. But for a few reasons, I thought it needed to be there: Enforcing the ADA is really hard for most people, because it...

15.Feb.2017


Disability Accommodations

Written by Jennifer Mankoff We have kindly been given permission to repost this from https://pghlyme.org/2012/12/03/disability-accommodations/ I have spent the past two weeks exploring what it means to work with Lyme disease from a new perspective. I’ve blogged before about why I think it’s valuable to view Lyme disease through the lense of disability . I’ve also blogged extensively about work and Lyme disease . However, I’ve never really put the two together. An important question, for those of us who work with Lyme disease is what accommodations, if any, are appropriate to ask for, and how one might go about doing that. First, it is important to know about the Americans with Disabilities...

13.Feb.2017


Taking time off your PhD for recovery

Written by Daniel Rough At some point in our PhD lives, nearly all of us experience feelings of self-doubt. We may feel that we aren't 'good enough' to be doing a PhD. We might feel like despite our best efforts, our progress has hit a standstill. The pressures of academic life can end up taking their toll on our mental health. Indeed, an article in The Guardian reported that there is a 'culture of acceptance' of mental health issues pervading academia (you can read this article here ). Cycle showing that lack of progress leads to stress and anxiety which in turn leads to lack of focus and a further lack of progress. One part reads: "...I see students and academics who view the researcher...

06.Feb.2017


Tips for Success in Academia When You are Different

Written by Temple Grandin I learned a lot by reading my student evaluations of my teaching. There are two kinds of critical evaluations. They are: 1) Ones that provide constructive suggestions on how to improve my teaching and 2) Nasty comments. I learned that I had to disregard the nasty comments and learn from the constructive criticism. Early in my career a student who was in more than one of my classes commented that I always gave the same lecture. The mistake I had made was using the same introductory slide for two different lectures in the two classes. I immediately made the introductory slides different. In any job, it is important to keep copies of all your annual evaluations....

06.Feb.2017


Uncovering the Interpretation Process: Emphasizing Flexible Communicative Practises in Academia

Written by Rachel Kolb “Let’s turn to talking about Derrida’s ideas about psychoanalytic temporality, and how this affects the construct of the signifier and the signified.” This kind of sentence comes up on a regular basis in my graduate seminars, and immediately I see my American Sign Language interpreters’ faces contort and go, huh? Granted, my interpreters are usually good at working through this, good at parsing through rapid-fire auditory information spoken in academese (truly more exotic of a language than ASL!) by a group of humanities scholars who do not need to access our institution, as I do, through real-time transliteration. Even while my professors and peers see me sitting...

06.Feb.2017


Ten Ways to Make Conferences Accessible to People with Disabilities

Written by Debra Guckenheimer Debra kindly gave us permission to re-post this article from medium.com. The original can be found here: ten-ways-to-making-conferences-more-accessible-to-people-with-disabilities Attending workshops, lectures, symposium, conferences, and other events are difficult or even impossible for some people with disabilities. Rarely have I seen disability given much thought in conference planning, even when the topic is diversity and inclusion. Here are ten ways to making your conferences more inclusive of people with disabilities. Many of them cost little to nothing other than a little forethought. Accommodation Point Person: Assign a person to be responsible for...

10.Dec.2016


PhD funding during illness: cancer, consequences & suggestions for change

Written by Claudia Pama The last thing I wanted this blog post to become is some whining account of my personal experiences, but if you sense any of that while reading it, I sincerely apologise and greatly admire your perseverance if you make it to the end. At the same time, I really hope you do (make it to the end, that is), as it’s not about my experiences (which solely function as an example), but about changes that should be made to a system where PhD students who fall ill are currently being punished for doing so. Brace yourself (admittedly, it's rather long, too). The message that you have cancer is never easy to digest, and the timing is never right. I received mine on an evening in...

10.Dec.2016


Achieving Greater Acceptance in Academia

Based on an interview with Ian Shipsey I grew up in a working class district on a notorious council estate (housing project) in London's East End. I was hearing at that time. My high school had 180 students per year. Only two of us went to university. My parents had left school at 16. As far as I am aware none of my fellow students had parents who had attended university either. I went to the local university; Queen Mary, in London to study physics. I then took a PhD in particle physics at Edinburgh where Peter Higgs was one of my teachers. Shortly after arriving at CERN, the main particle physics lab in Europe, I fell in love with a wonderful Italian physics student who was heading to the...

10.Dec.2016


Wanted: Disabled Faculty Members

Written by Jay Dolmage and Stephanie Kerschbaum We have kindly been given permission to re-post this article from: Advice Hiring Faculty Members Essay When one of us -- Stephanie -- was on the job market for the first time more than 10 years ago, she agonized over whether and how to mention her disability (she is deaf) in her job materials. She knew from past experience that by not saying anything, she ran the risk of creating potential misunderstandings during interviews. When she managed to secure more than a dozen interviews at the Modern Language Association conference, where English departments perform much of the preliminary interviewing for hires, she set to work. In addition to...

03.Nov.2016