Hi there! I’m Lienkie Diedericks, a PGR at the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine, and I’m also currently a part-time Disability Project Support Officer at the Centre for Doctoral Studies (CDS). I’d like to introduce you to the project I’m working on currently, which focuses on PGR disability issues.
I’d like to better understand what disabled, chronically ill and/or neurodiverse PGR experiences are at King’s: what works for you and what doesn’t?
My mission is to create a central online hub where important information relevant to disabled PGRs is streamlined and easily accessible, including topics around extensions, interruptions, adjustments, and best practice. Other than that, I’d like to create awareness and cultural change around disability, chronic illness and/or neurodiversity within our research communities and the institution more broadly.
What prompted you to take on this project?
My own experience as a disabled PGR at King’s made me realise how few conversations and real change is happening in our research environment. Disability is very much still an unspoken topic.
I decided to create a podcast – which was funded by the CDS Wellbeing Fund – to address often neglected disability issues. The podcast is called ‘Enabled in Academia’. Off the back of this podcast, I was asked to join the PGR Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Task and Finish Group at King’s to co-write a paper of recommendations on PGR disability issues. This project aims to action some of these recommendations.
What are your focus areas in this project?
There are a few things I want to achieve. The first is to create a central online space as a reference point for information on PGR disability-related topics, including information on exemptions and interruptions, best practices, and a glossary of accommodations with accompanying case studies.
Importantly, I want to provide a resource for PGRs outlining your rights as a disabled person. And if you don’t identity as disabled? Not to worry, the Equalities Act 2010 covers any persons with a physical or mental impairment that has a ‘substantial’ and ‘long-term’ negative effect on your ability to do normal daily activities. For more on this, see the Equalities Act Technical Guidance for Further and Higher Education.
Then, together with my colleagues at the CDS, we’re planning on launching a new online PGR Disabilities ‘Hub’ along with a series of events and seminars in September of the new academic year.
This will include an online open forum Q&A with key institutional stakeholder, disabled, chronically ill and/or neurodiverse PGRs and faculty, followed by an in-person ‘meet and greet’ (snacks included!). We’re also planning a series of short webinars on topics including supervision, and building your support network as a disabled, chronically ill and/or neurodiverse PGR.
How can PGRs get involved in this project?
I’m compiling a guidance document on best practices for disabled PGRs, which will be based around a series of case studies. It would be great if these case studies reflected the wide variety of PGRs and their disciplines at King’s currently.
Please get in touch if you’d like to share your experience – even if it’s not a positive one.
You can share your experience completely anonymously using this Google Form – PGR disability hub form (google.com)
I’d also love for anyone to be involved in the communications campaign, whether that’s attending the events, co-hosting a webinar or feeding back to me on topics you’d like to be highlighted. Any suggestions are welcome! You can get in touch with me at: email@example.com.
In the meantime, what resources are currently available for PGRs?
I’d strongly recommend becoming part of Access King’s, the staff disability inclusion network at King’s College London. As a PGR you can join this network, which hosts a wealth of resources and events. Other useful resources can be found on the Disability Inclusion Hub and the PGR Wellbeing Hub.