Celebrating our differences this Disability History Month and beyond

UK Disability History Month 2021

Everyone’s welcome at BU and we’re committed to creating an inclusive environment

From the accessibility of our campuses and accommodation to the range of support services available and much more, we want to make sure that you have the best university experience – and help you to create fantastic memories that will last a lifetime.

Read on to find out more about how we support our community, opportunities to get involved in campaigning for change, the achievements of BU graduates and the difference our research is making.

Our Disability & Additional Learning Support (ALS) team

Whether you’re an undergraduate or postgraduate student, studying full-time or part-time, our Disability & ALS team are on hand to offer support throughout your time at BU. 

If you have a physical or sensory impairment, or a medical or mental health condition, or a learning difference such as dyslexia, dyspraxia, ADD or ASS, the ALS team will be able to identify the most appropriate support for you.

As well as one-to-one learning support, which could be tuition and/or mentoring tailored to your individual needs, the team runs specific skills workshops and can also advise you on assessments and funding assistance from the Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA).

Find out more about the support you can access

Read more of Tom’s blog

Tom – now a BU graduate in BSc (Hons) Computing – on his disability and BU’s ALS team:

I have Cerebral Palsy so I rely on an electric wheelchair. I met with the ALS team on one of my first visits to BU. The support they have provided has been crucial to my studies. Even if you just want a chat, they are always happy to see you.
Read more of Lara’s blog

Lara – now a BU graduate in BA (Hons) Computer Animation Art & Design – on the academic support she accessed while studying:

I have access to ALS support which has been extremely helpful when writing essays, reports and preparing presentations. You get assigned an ALS tutor that you can meet up with regularly to organise your work and set yourself up for exams.

See the difference our research is making

Some of the members of the BU PIER Partnership

The BU PIER Partnership

Working alongside our research centre for Seldom Heard Voices, the BU PIER Partnership (Public Involvement in Education and Research) aims to represent and benefit marginalised groups in society. One of the ways in which this has been done is to explore disabled people's voices on sexual wellbeing. Watch the video to find out more.
Paralympics, Cultural Change and Social Legacy (PASCCAL) - TEST - DO NOT USE

Paralympics, Cultural Change and Social Legacy (PASCCAL)

Every four years, as the Paralympic Games take place, the eyes of the world turn to para-sport. But when it came to an evidence base regarding media coverage of such sport, this was previously lacking - and urgently needed. Read more about the impact of this award-winning research.
From face blindness to super-recognisers: how research is changing lives

Face processing

The work of Professor Sarah Bate and BU's Centre for Face Processing Disorders means that those experiencing face recognition difficulties now have their condition recognised as prosopagnosia. The team have also been able to offer some of the first face training programmes in the world to improve face recognition skills.

SUBU initiatives: Disabilities, Accessibility & Neuro-Diverse Campaign and the Allyship Hub

BU student Caitlyn Bembridge is the newly elected Disabilities, Accessibility & Neuro-Diverse Officer for 2021/2022 and is leading on activities for Disability History Month, including 'Accessival' – a week-long social event designed to promote accessibility

In addition to the support available from BU’s Disability and ALS team, your Students’ Union (SUBU) offers lots of opportunities to get involved in campaigning for change.

Run by students for students, the Disabilities, Accessibility & Neuro-Diverse Campaign is one of six SUBU Liberation Campaigns and supports students who self-define within this group, including those with physical disabilities, hidden impairments, and learning differences.

When it comes to disabilities that aren’t visible, this was the focus of a previous Students with Disabilities Campaign; ‘Not all disabilities are visible’ – designed to raise awareness and challenge preconceived ideas of what disability means.

Join the Campaign on Facebook Visit the Disability Allyship Hub

Making an impact – meet some of our graduates

Liam Mcgarry - TEST - DO NOT USE

Liam Mcgarry

While studying at BU, Liam was diagnosed with Transverse Myelitis – inflammation of the spinal cord. But he hasn’t let his disability stop him. Liam discovered Para Powerlifting through the Spinal Games – and he hasn’t looked back since. Watch Liam’s story.
Nathaniel Hawley

Nat Hawley

Nat’s work as a neurodiversity champion and advocate for people with learning differences, such as autism, has led to him being nominated for a Pride of Britain Award and recognised by HRH, The Prince of Wales. See more of Nat's story.
Dr Paul Whittington - TEST - DO NOT USE

Dr Paul Whittington

Dr Paul Whittington – BU graduate and now Lecturer in Assistive Technology – is finding ways in which technologies can help those with disabilities. This includes using the 'SmartAbility' framework he developed as an undergraduate to improve the lives of others. Discover Dr Whittington's story.
Read more from Dr Vanessa Heaslip and Dr Rebecca Edwards

BU staff and neurodiversity. Dr Vanessa Heaslip, Associate professor and Deputy Head of Nursing Science, on the positives of dyslexia:

Being dyslexic helps my leadership as I typically ‘think’ outside the box. I see things visually and holistically which really helps when it comes to problem solving and identifying new ways of working. Hidden disabilities don't have to hold you back.

Supporting our students and staff through national schemes

Disability confident employer logo

Disability Confident Employer

BU is home to a diverse community and we want everyone to feel welcome throughout their time with us. We’re a Disability Confident Employer which means that we’re committed to the employment, retention, training and career development of disabled colleagues.

AccessAble logo, featuring the text 'AccessAble Your Accessibility Guide'


We want to make sure that the time spent on our campuses, in our buildings and when using our facilities is enjoyable and easy for everyone. We work closely with AccessAble to provide detailed accessibility listings for all of our physical spaces.

Read BU graduate Abigail's blog on accessibility and facilities

Mindful Employer logo

Mindful Employer

We all know how important it is to look after our mental health. As a Mindful Employer, we take our commitment to mental health seriously and run a number of staff-led initiatives to encourage and promote positive mental health.

Find out more about these statuses and commitments