November 16 – December 16 2023 is Disability History Month, and this week we have been hosting our own Disability Awareness Week. During the course of this week we have been joining the national conversation about different types of physical and hidden disabilities, and sharing more about how we support our students and staff to work and study in an inclusive and supportive environment.

Throughout the week, the Learning Support Centre (LSC) have hosted an information stand in the Junction, inviting students to explore and ask questions about different disabilities on each day. The week started with an initial conversation focused on the way in which we understand disability as a community, and how we can support those with a disability. The team also highlighted some of the common disabilities faced by students at HNC and shared first -hand accounts of the impact of these disabilities.  We also explored the different ‘models’ of disabilities, such as medical, social and charitable, and whether these models benefit those in our community with a disability, or whether they are problematic. As part of this, students have been sharing their personal experiences of disability, and how they feel that they can experience an equal world.

We’ve also been inviting our students to submit a creative piece which reflects their understanding of the challenges disabled people can face. Submissions remain open until Friday 22 December and students are encouraged to consider the following questions as part of their submission.

What is your personal understanding of the issues disabled people can face?
How can we support those with disabilities to be fully involved in political, social, economic and cultural life?
What benefits will society see in ensuring that every person, irrespective of ability, has equal human rights?

Chris Madej, Head of Faculty for Additional Learning Support, comments “HNC works very closely with students who may face additional barriers due to their disabilities to ensure that they can achieve their full potential, and leave HNC ready to take their next steps with confidence. Our Disability Awareness Week has prompted many conversations about disability, and addressed some common myths and perceptions. Many of our students were for example surprised by an insight from one of our hearing impaired students who shared that speaking more slowly hinders their ability to lip read, although many people think it helps! This week has helped our College community to gain a deeper understanding of disability, and the role we all have to play in ensuring we can all live in an equal world.”

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