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Disabled researchers and the UK Parliament

In February 2021, UK Parliament's Knowledge Exchange Unit held three online discussion groups and an online survey exploring disabled researchers and the UK Parliament. There were also opportunities to contribute through direct emails and 1:1 phone calls with Knowledge Exchange Unit staff.

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What did we learn?

During the online discussions and through the online survey, participants shared their lived experience of engaging with the UK Parliament and the policy sector, and the barriers they have faced in contributing expertise to the UK Parliament.  They also contributed ideas on how they think UK Parliament can strengthen its work to support disabled researchers to engage with Parliament.

Disabled researchers would these things like to happen:

  • Cultural change at Parliament to focus on the value added by disabled people, rather than the adjustments needed.
  • Accessibility embedded across all parliamentary activity.
  • Continuation of online and flexible contributions, as a way to mitigate many accessibility barriers caused by requiring in-person attendance.
  • Accessible information on how to engage with Parliament and opportunities to contribute to Parliament, promoted widely.
  • A paid working group or committee of disabled researchers to inform Parliament.
  • A network or database of disabled researchers, from Higher Education and beyond.
  • Opportunities specifically for disabled researchers.
  • A single point of contact at Parliament for liaison with disabled people.
  • Significant investment into improving the physical accessibility of Parliament.
  • Specific roles or champions at Parliament focused on disability.
  • Parliament advocating for cultural change around disability across academia.
  • Parliament advocating with funders about equality of access to funding and inclusivity within funding bids.

We can't take forward every suggestion, but here is more information and examples on how we're responding to the suggestions we received.

Why did we run these activities?

We held these online discussion groups and opened the survey because we know that disabled researchers are under-represented in engaging with the UK Parliament.  We want that to change.  

This event is part of ongoing activity from Parliament's Knowledge Exchange Unit to learn from to a range of communities from the research sector about barriers they face in engaging with Parliament and their ideas for how Parliament can strengthen its work to support them.  

If you would like to know more about this work, please contact Naomi Saint, Knowledge Exchange Manager, on saintn@parliament.uk