Celebrating our differences this UK Disability History Month and beyond

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Everyone's welcome at BU. We're proud of our diverse community and are committed to creating an inclusive environment. This UK Disability History Month, we're sharing the stories and achievements of the BU community, the impact of our research, and the support we offer our students and staff.

Alice Tai MBE, paralympic swimmer and BU honorary graduate

Alice Tai, interviewed at graduation 2022

Alice was born with a clubfoot and before the age of 12, she had undergone 14 corrective operations to alleviate her condition, sometimes needing a wheelchair for long periods of time during recovery.

In January 2022, her right leg was amputated below the knee after worsening pain in her right foot. But Alice didn't let that interrupt her swimming career. Just six months later, in July 2022, she won a gold medal in the 100m backstroke at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham – adding to her evergrowing collection of medals and sporting achievements.

Read the full news story

Dr Camila Devis-Rozental and Clive Gilbert: influencing change

BU’s Dr Camila Devis-Rozental

The Shaw Trust Disability Power 100 celebrates the UK's most influential disabled people and organisations.

In August 2022, two members of our community – Dr Camila Devis-Rozental, Principle Academic in Socio-emotional Intelligence (SEI) and Service Excellence, and Clive Gilbert, Senior Policy and Research Manager, Assistive and Accessible Technology – were recognised for the impact of their work, featuring in this year's Power 100.

Camila's research has explored the concept of SEI, with a focus on higher education teaching and learning. She has applied this to her day-to day work at BU, developing and delivering an academic and professional practice unit, which engages students to develop holistically, including consideration of their Socio-emotional Intelligence.

As a partner of BU, Clive has been, and continues to be, instrumental in driving forward our assistive technology education and research. In particular, his report, ‘Smarter Homes for Independent Living: Putting People in Control of Their Lives’, has played a vital role in shifting the national discussion around social care and technology.

“I feel extremely honoured to be part of this prestigious group of people. Ultimately my goal is to humanise education. This can only be achieved be celebrating diversity, and fully including – and embracing – marginalised voices.”

Dr Camila Devis-Rozental

Read the full news story

Charlotte Fodor

Charlotte speaking at a BU event

Charlotte, a lecturer within our Faculty of Media & Communication, has been on quite a journey with BU.

As a shy student starting at BU 10 years ago, Charlotte initially struggled with speaking in front of her peers and lecturers. Over time, she adjusted to life as a student, and credits BU's support networks  and her cohort  in helping to boost her confidence. 

Since then, she’s gone on to complete a Master’s degree and PhD at BU, and, ultimately, join our academic staff.

“A highlight of my university experience was speaking about my final year thesis at BU’s annual Showcasing Undergraduate Research Excellence conference. After presenting a paper based on my dissertation and winning an award for my research on representations of disabilities in literature, I realised that I wanted to continue to contribute to academia. Disabled people are often mis-represented in the public sphere, including within literature, which can lead to negative ideas and attitudes about our lived experiences.”

Charlotte Fodor

Read Charlotte’s story

Meet more BU graduates making an impact

Liam Mcgarry

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.
Nathaniel Hawley

Nat Hawley

Through his work as Director of the Dyslexia Employment Academy, Nat is helping people with learning disabilities overcome barriers to employment – inspired by his own journey and experiences of being neurodivergent.
Dr Paul Whittington

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.

See the difference our research is making

Atech Policy Lab celebrates first anniversary

Atech Policy Lab celebrates first anniversary

The Lab, a collaboration between Policy Connect, BU, and the Ace Centre, aims to design policy to make technology work for everyone – and has undertaken a range of policy interventions in its first year.

Campaign for change with SUBU

SUBU's Disabilities, Accessibility and Neuro-Diverse Campaign logoSUBU's Disabilities, Accessibility & Neuro-Diverse Campaign logo

Run by students for students, your Students' Union, SUBU, is here to make your university experience better. 

If you're passionate about campaigning for change and getting your voice heard, SUBU's Liberation Campaigns are a great way to do this. There are six in total, including the Disabilities, Accessibility & Neuro-Diverse Campaign.

Led by the elected Disabilities, Accessibility & Neuro-Diverse Officer for the academic year, the campaign supports students who self-define within this group, including those with physical disabilities, hidden impairments and mental health conditions, and welcomes allies from across the BU community.

Join the campaign on Facebook Access resources from the Disability Allyship Hub

Supporting our community

Our Disability & Additional Learning Support (ALS) team

For those students who have a learning difference, such as dyslexia or dyspraxia, or a medical or mental health condition, or a physical or sensory impairment, our Disability & ALS team are on hand to support and guide them throughout their time with us.

As well as one-to-one support tailored to individual needs, the team run specific skills workshops – designed to enhance independent learning. 

They can also help with a range of other areas, from exam access arrangements to assisting with applications for the Disabled Students’ Allowance.

“As someone who has fibromyalgia, dyslexia, personality disorder and chronic fatigue, I always felt that my conditions would hold me back. But thanks to the support of the ALS team and other services, my dream of becoming a nurse now seems achievable.”

Katie, a final year BSc (Hons) Adult Nursing student, on her disabilities and overcoming self-doubt. Read Katie's blog.

We've been recognised by and signed up to a number of national equality schemes – reinforcing our commitment to making sure that everyone feels welcome at BU:

UK Disability History Month logo