UCL Grand Challenges


Ableism in Academia: developing institutional approaches to inclusivity

An exploration of the lived experience of ableism in academia.

Image of wheelchair user at base of steps

7 February 2020


Grant: Grand Challenges Small Grants
Year awarded: 2018-19
Amount awarded: £3,928


This project explored the lived experience of ableism in academia. Through the application of creativity and creation within visual and ethnographic research methods, the project aimed to get closer to participants' feelings and emotions and to provide means of expression for what is difficult to express - such as personal journeys, emotional developments and experiences. This then provided the starting point for the development of action points for UCL and the wiser sector in relation to improving individuals' lived experiences. The activities funded included: 

  1. an internet survey, which yielded over 300 responses within the one month it was online; 
  2. an interactive, creative workshop held at IOE to allow for creative explorations of experiences which was filmed and audio-recorded;
  3. one-to-one Skype interviews with 20 participants. 

Whilst the research data is still being analysed, the project has already created significant tangible outcomes derived from the preliminary analyses. The project team have gained better understanding of what is required to support disabled/chronically ill and neurodiverse individuals in academia. These needs have been communicated to the Provost and relevant members of UCL's EDI teams.

Changes have already been made; for example, there will be an EDI envoy for UCL as well as a revision of the academic careers framework. Additionally, a more strategic focus on EDI policies and guidelines is in the making. The project has also led to publications, presentations, and awards.  

Outputs and Impact

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