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Disability History Month

10 Nov 2023

Disability History Month takes place 16 November to 16 December


This month, we celebrate Disability History Month, and colleagues will have the opportunity to recognise and appreciate our disability history at events taking place across the University.   

Professor Jackie Carter, Academic EDI Lead for Disability said, “Disability History Month is a chance to reflect on those who have fought for the access and rights that we have today.  That fight continues through those of us working for disability-inclusion.  

Illuminating our buildings in purple is one way of highlighting our commitment to all disabled students and staff and a signal to our community of the work we are doing to create a more inclusive University of Manchester - where we all belong. Our passion for disability-inclusion is firm - we are determined make a difference to the experiences of our disabled staff and students.” 

Get involved  

All events are open to staff and students. 

Wednesday, 29 November – Demystifying Disability with Dr Shani Dhanda 

Lunch and networking 12 – 12.50 - Kilburn Atlas Room, Lecture at 1pm in Kilburn 1.1 

Dr Shani Dhanda, one of the UK's most influential disabled people and BBC's 100 Women laureate of 2020, will demystify disability allowing you to understand the social model of disability and give you the confidence to talk to your disabled colleagues and students and become their ally.    

BSL interpreters will be in attendance and the event will be livestreamed.  If you wish to watch the livestream, please book a place via the link above.  

Sunday, 3 December 

The Academy, Dusk 

To recognise International Day of Persons with Disabilities we will be lighting up The Academy building in purple.  

Monday, 4 December - Illuminate the Alan Gilbert Learning Commons

Join us on Monday, 4 December at 4pm for a special event celebrating our diverse disabled staff and students at the University. 

Let’s light up the night with unity and inclusion. Capturing moments with photography to showcase our strength in diversity. Bring an ally and shine together! 

Tuesday, 5 December - Disability History Month Film Screening of "Then Barbara Met Alan"

1pm to 3pm Manchester Metropolitan University - Lecture Theatre G35, Manchester, M15 6BH

The Disabled Staff networks at The University of Manchester and MMU would like to invite you to a screening of this brilliant film in celebration of Disability History Month. 

Then Barbara Met Alan is a 2022 British television drama film about Barbara Lisicki and Alan Holdsworth, the founders of DAN (Disabled People's Direct Action Network), a disability activism group. It is written by Jack Thorne and Genevieve Barr and stars Ruth Madeley and Arthur Hughes.

After meeting in 1989 at a gig, two cabaret performers, comedian Barbara and activist-performer Alan, fall in love. Fueled by their passion and life experiences of mistreatment by an ableist society, they help found DAN, the Disabled People's Direct Action Network and lead protests for disabled people's rights which eventually lead to the Disability Discrimination Act of 1995. As the movement grows and the pair have a child of their own, the pressure begins to wear on their relationship

The film is signed and subtitled. 

Thursday, 7 December - Accessing brilliance: Universal design for universities

1pm - 2pm, Online, 45 minutes and followed with 15 min Q&A

Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health

Dr Katherine Deane is an Associate Professor in Healthcare Research at the University of East Anglia (UEA) in Norwich. Her research investigates the everyday management techniques needed to maximise wellbeing in people with long term conditions and disabilities e.g. medication and dietary adherence, falls prevention, and interventions for depression and anxiety. Katherine has worked with international pharmaceutical companies to create a checklist for quality patient engagement across all stages of drug development.

In this session she will discuss the impact of university and research environments that are rarely accessible, how she has managed to promote change, and her aspirations for the future.

About Disability History Month   

UK Disability History Month (UKDHM) is an annual event focused on the history of disabled people’s fight for equality and human rights.     

UKDHM 2022 takes place from Wednesday, 16 November until Friday, 16 December.  

This year the theme is Disability, Children and Youth.   

Disability Staff Network Co-Chairs, Rachel Heyes, Steven Pierce and Laura Howard said "As a staff network group working within higher education, we are looking forward to the opportunity for us to reflect on the history of disabled people's fight for equality and human rights, the theme of disability, children and youth will be especially prevalent.  

“We are also looking forward to hosting, supporting and attending a variety of events with a variety of colleagues, and guests which we hope will support our drive to raise awareness and achieve equity for people with disabilities" 

Further information   

If you are hosting an event for Disability History Month that you would like us to add to this list please email