Spotlight on Michele Farmer
23 August 2016
This week, the spotlight is on Michele Farmer, Disability IT Support Analyst, Client Platform Services, UCL Information Services Division.
What is your role and what does it involve?
My role is based in Client Platform Services, which is a team within UCL Information Services Division. The team works closely with UCL Disability Student Services and Occupational Health to support both staff and students at UCL who have identified that they are disabled and/or have ergonomic needs and require support with IT.
My duties range from supporting staff and registered disabled students to individuals who have a temporary impairment (e.g. a broken arm) that is affecting their work when using a computer. I help find and source technological solutions and items such as chairs, but I also carry out training with regards to assistive technology and its uses. I also do some accessibility testing and serve on various committees, such as the Staff Disability Forum.
How long have you been at UCL and what was your previous role?
I have been at UCL for eight years, give or take a few days, hours and seconds (not that I'm counting, of course!). My previous role was Technology Development Manager at the University of East London.
What working achievement or initiative are you most proud of?
I'm most proud of the service I have built since arriving, the growth of the number of services I can now offer, as well as the increase in the number of people taking up the service who I've been able to help. I also ran a summer project for students and my idea was to give them a chance to develop resources that they felt would be useful to disabled and non-disabled users while gaining new skills, work experience and a bit of pocket money.
Recently, I had the honour of being nominated and selected for the 'Women@UCL' award, which I found very humbling.
Tell us about a project you are working on now which is top of your to-do list.
Developing the service to reach more people and increasing the number of services on offer is always at the top of my list, but we have recently moved the SENIT Suite to a wonderful new location. I was successful in acquiring the funding for an industrial level book scanner, so I'm really looking forward to getting that project underway.
What is your favourite album, film and novel?
Too many albums to name, but I'll go with Misplaced Childhood by Marillion.
Film is tricky as I'm a film addict, but I think I would edge towards the Devil Rides Out as I love a good old-fashioned horror film and adore Christopher Lee. The other would be A Matter of Life and Death with David Niven. I'm not a romantic by nature but I think this film has the most magical special effects for its time.
Books are another great love and my favourite authors are the late, great Terry Pratchett and Charles De Lint. So mythology and humour - I'm an escapist, basically.
What is your favourite joke (pre-watershed)?
I have a terrible memory for jokes but I do like this, which was on my desk calendar recently. "Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter".
Who would be your dream dinner guests?
I'm afraid I'd have a very long list for this, but they would have to include Jo Brand, Dara O'Brian, the Monty Python team, Alan Davies, Alice Cooper, Douglas Adams, Sebastian Horsley and, of course, Terry Pratchett (if they were all still alive of course). But as I like people, anyone friendly and fun would be welcome.
I would love to have my dinner go cold because I'm laughing so much… Perhaps a cold finger buffet would be better, along with someone who could do the Heimlich Manoeuvre.
What advice would you give your younger self?
What would it surprise people to know about you?
That I'm an artist and photographer in my spare time and have also had the privilege to sing with the Royal Opera House Community Chorus in Covent Garden. I've also just finished making a 16th century lute in the old fashioned way, using lots of elbow grease and cut fingers.
What is your favourite place?
The Barbican - I've been going there since it opened (yes, I am that old) and I love the place - it always has something interesting happening and sometimes I just like to go there to wander about and people-watch.