Information on the members of the Disability Equality Steering Group
Co-Chairs of DESG
Dr. Jennifer Rode
Dr. Jennifer Rode is an Associate Professor in the department of Culture, Communication and Media in IoE. Her research examines how technology can be used to alleviate ableism, but is often the source of it. Rode is the chair of AccessSIGCHI a disability advocacy group with the Association of Computer Machinery’s SIGCHI (https://accesssigchi.com). Rode has numerous invisible disabilities herself.
Michele Farmer – Digital Accessibility Coordinator. I’ve been at UCL since 2008, and have worked in education all my life. In my time I’ve been a Disability Adviser, Assistive Technology Trainer, DSA Assessor, Access Centre Manager DSE Assessor, and painted fences (the last one I kid you not on). I come from a family with disabled members, and am disabled myself so have quite a lot of experience in this field. I have also spent a long number of years studying for this job, including a Foundation in Deaf Studies, and BSL to Pre Stage 3 level though my BSL is somewhat rusty now, a bit like my joints lol.
Vanessa (she/her) is a Professor of Healthcare Engineering at UCL, as well as the Vice-Dean for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in the Faculty of Engineering Sciences. Vanessa leads a large team of researchers that make use of modelling and simulation tools to predict patient-specific cardiovascular interventions and patient outcomes prior to surgery. Her work has evolved over the years to include more patients’ voices in her research and to develop tools that are inclusive and equitable, as often technology is deeply ableist.
Vanessa was also one of the co-founding members of The Inclusion Group for Equity in Research in STEMM (TIGERS) who successfully launched a parliamentary inquiry into how inequity in funding distribution impacts the UK research landscape. She’s worked over the years with numerous charities and organisations including the Women’s Engineering Society and she’s a Strategic Advisory Board (SAT) Member on EPSRC’s Engineering Panel.
Vanessa is also the (tired) mum of a very spirited young child (formerly also a very spirited baby and toddler) and she is a school governor where she is specially interested in STEM subjects and inclusion.
Members of DESG
My name is Kajsa-Stina Longuere and I am part of UCL’s Professional Services workforce as Operations Manager for the UK Energy Research Centre that is hosted at UCL BSEER. I have also done a PhD in Science and Technology Studies at the STS Department.
I am a partially deaf mother of a partially deaf child, and with my personal experiences of deafness and mental health issues, I have a particular interest in increasing awareness and accessibility for invisible disabilities and conditions.
I want to see a move from the ‘deficit model’ and bring us all onto an equal footing as we face the challenges and opportunities that life brings. That will only happen if society and technology change and become more inclusive and accessible. That is what I work for.
Ever keen to contribute towards inclusive strategic change and transformation, I have been involved in numerous equality oriented projects, often related to gender equality, diversity, and accessibility – and I tend to volunteer to co-draft EDI-related plans and policies.
My name is Pip Jackson and I am the Access & Inclusion Manager in the Sustainability Team. I work closely with both Estates Operations and Estates Development to both act as a critical friend on their projects / works but also to advise on strengthening the inclusiveness of the work they are responsible for. My disability equality strength is inclusive environments, I have an MSc in Accessibility and Inclusive design. Aside from my professional interest in disability equality I am also a disabled person myself and have two children with disabilities.
If I could change one thing for disabled people it would probably be for them to live in a world that was free from barriers to their full participation in life and one where disabled people were not seen as second class citizens / objects of pity but instead as equals. A world free from discrimination for all is one I still live in hope of seeing in my lifetime.
I have been at UCL for less than two years but I am extremely proud of the changes I have been able to facilitate so far. Things never progress as fast as I would like as I want full inclusion yesterday, however so far my work has seen an Estates Inclusive Design Strategy that commits to the highest levels of inclusion, updated standards on teaching space design, washrooms design and signage that all have inclusion embedded in them, the launching of the sunflower lanyard scheme (which Enable had been seeking to have at UCL) and so many changes to the building works undertaken by Estates Development to ensure inclusive design. I have also begun an inclusive environments awareness training session each month that is seeing Estates Developments staff knowledge increase so that they are more confident in what to seek in projects.
I am senior MRI technician at the Birkbeck-UCL Centre for Neuroscience located at the UCL Division of Psychology and Language Sciences. I have a PhD in MRI physics and I am a registered Clinical Scientist for MRI. In February 2011 I joined UCL and started in my current role after two exciting post-doc projects. I am also a senior member of the Neurodivergent Staff Network at UCL.
Being considered as neurotypical when I joined UCL and neurodivergent today, showed me how difficult it is to get individual help, beyond general information available. Based on this experience, I like to focus on three target areas.
Individual workplace adjustments: these should be not more than some check boxes to tick on MyHR, to receive hardware, software, trigger assessments and line manger training.
UCL Policies: these should be inclusive, explicit, and easy to apply, covering disabilities needs. No one should feel discriminated when policies are applied besides a disability related concern or issue.
Tailored disability advice: online disability advice should be easily accessible and categorised in disabilities. The advice should be updated regularly using feedback and individual tips from users, in regards what helps (hardware, software, books, webpages, (mental) hacks, etc.).
I admit we are not quite there yet, and a lot of other areas are not included, but these small steps could mean a large step for an individual.
I am the MBBS Module Manager, responsible for being the main contact point for Year 5 MBBS students whilst studying Obstetrics and Gynaecology and I am now the Inclusion Lead for the EGA Institute for Women’s Health. I joined UCL in 2010 and have held various roles and am passionate about equality, diversity, and inclusion. I have multiple protected characteristics and am married to a blind Psychotherapist. I would like to help all disabled staff and students to reach their full potential. Out of work my husband and I champion the inclusion of disabled people within the arts, so that audio description, signed and relaxed theatre productions are included in all productions, and that there are tours of museum and galleries that are inclusive.
Hello – I am Manjula Patrick. I am currently EDI-WP Strategy Manager in the Faculty of Engineering, and Disability Equity Lead in the Faculty of Brain Sciences. I have a PhD in Biotechnology – quite a shift from my current roles!
My interest in social justice and inclusion stems from my lived experience of intersecting identities. Despite the complexity it brings to addressing equality, I feel intersectional approaches are key to meaningful interventions.
To subscribe to the ideology of inclusion, a cultural change must happen – that’s each one of us taking active responsibility for breaking down barriers (like accessibility) and valuing disabled and neurodivergent people’s contributions to our community… this is what I’d wave my magic wand to address!
I have contributed to many EDI ventures, but DESG gets my first shout-out– a privilege to be part of such a positive, collegiate, and diverse group; disabled and neurodivergent people and proactive allies, who work tirelessly on a voluntary basis, to further disability equity at UCL.
My second shout-out is ‘Discover UCL for Deaf and Hard of Hearing students’ an annual widening participation summer school programme I lead, delivered in partnership with the Access and Widening Participation Office. Setup in 2013, it is unique to UCL and brings talented young deaf people into HE (including UCL).
I am a lecturer in education at UCL IOE and my research focuses on ableism in academia and the experiences of disability, chronic illness and neurodiversity amongst staff in higher education. I am delighted to be able to represent disabled, chronically ill and/or neurodiverse staff members at UCL. And it is my aim to further raise awareness of the many benefits and perspectives our different ways of working bring to the knowledge community that is UCL.
Dr Sarabajaya Kumar
Dr Sarabajaya Kumar joined the UCL School of Public Policy in January 2010. She is currently a part-time Lecturer (Teaching) in Voluntary Sector Policy and Leadership.
Sarabajaya previously held a number of Fellowship and Faculty roles at the London School of Economics and Political Science, the University of Oxford and The Open University.
Her research interests are in Accountability, Governance, Ethical Leadership, Intersectionality and Equality. She currently is co-principal investigator for two research projects, one funded by UCL’s Global Engagement Office with Professor Yamamoto at Osaka University and Associate Professor Rode at UCL’s Institute of Education; and the other, funded by the Association of Disabled Professionals, with Associate Professor Colin Provost in the Department of Political Science.
Sarabajaya leads her own research consultancy and is an equalities adviser to the Bar Standards Board (BSB). She is also currently a member of the BSB’s Disability Task Force.
In addition, she is active in civil society and has founded and co-founded a number of non-profit organisations over the past thirty years. Sarabajaya is currently a member of the Women’s Budget Group Policy Advisory Committee, a Trustee of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO), and a Director of Impatience, an organisation founded to support and host innovative public benefit projects that were not being created within large established charities. Sarabajaya contested the 2021 GLA election as a list candidate of the Women’s Equality Party. She was one of the first eleven women to be supported by the Activate Collective, and the first disabled woman.
Sarabajaya is: co-lead of the Department of Political Science Disability, Neurodiversity, and Wellbeing EDI network; member of the Department’s EDI Committee; and member of UCL’s Disability Equality Steering Group, for which she served as co-chair with Jennifer Rode and Michele Farmer for one year.
I am the Head of Communications, Strategy and Planning in UCL’s central Communications and Marketing team (CAM). In this role, I am responsible for leading the university’s strategic communications - that includes communicating with staff and students, podcasts, graduations, and public campaigns and events. I first joined the university in March 2018 as Communications and Marketing Manager for UCL Culture and moved to CAM in October 2019.
As well as having epilepsy, I also support members of my family who are disabled. I’m proud to have the chance to use both my experience of disability and my position in CAM to support the Disability Equality Steering Group and Enable Network, and make UCL a fairer, more inclusive place to work and study.
I am currently an Impact and Communications Officer, and a Research Assistant for the Deafness Cognition and Language Research Centre (DCAL). I joined UCL in 2011 and have had a variety of roles in both academia and professional services. I am a British Sign Language user who also uses speech. It’s my intersectional experiences of being an ethnic minority woman with a disability and the challenges that come with that led me to join DESG. My grandfather, Avtar Jouhl, was the president of the Indian Workers’ Association, and my father currently runs the Birmingham Race Impact Group (BRIG): a sense of social justice, equality and diversity run through my blood. I am actively involved in the deaf community and a trustee of Friends of Frank Barnes (a deaf bilingual primary school based in King's Cross). I am really looking forward to working with DESG and creating an equitable and inclusive environment at UCL.