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Disability Staff Network


The Disability Staff Network is made up of a number of staff who want to improve the experience of disabled staff at the University.

The network aims to ensure that people with disabilities have a positive experience at St Mary's, from the point of applying for a job, to progression within the organisation. The network will do this through supporting delivery of the People Strategy aims, raising awareness of disability through events, influencing policy and strategy that impact disabled staff, and drawing on best practice advice and guidance.


We welcome all staff to our network. Please contact if you would like to join the network.

To mark this day, we put together a poster with some staff testimonials, quick wins for colleagues, and some further resources which our members have found useful.

Please take the time to read some first-hand experiences from our colleagues, building awareness, and contributing to a more inclusive community.

View our poster

Sunflower Scheme for hidden disabilities

The Sunflower Scheme to support staff and students with hidden disabilities was launched in March 2021. This scheme allows people to discreetly signal that they may need support due to a hidden disability. If you see someone you are working with or supporting is wearing a Sunflower lanyard, you can support the person by asking if they need any adjustments or help, but do not ask them what their disability is. You can find out more about the Sunflower Scheme on Moodle

General guidance for staff and people managers

We have created guidance notes for staff who have disabilities on accessing support, and for managers on how to support staff with disabilities.

Tailored resources and information

A collection of resources for accessing support for specific disabilities, or supporting staff who have a specific disability. We will be expanding this section over time. If you have any ideas please let us know!

Deafness and hearing loss resources

Dyslexia and dyspraxia

Learning disabilities resources

Mental health resources

Israel Bernal Romero on neurodiversity

Israel is a late diagnosed Autistic who studied Psychology at St Mary's, and then went on to start a career in the non-for-profit sector. In 2019 he earned a promotion to lead trainer with the Treat Me Right! project. Since then, he's trained over 450 people all from an #ActuallyAutistic perspective. Israel is very passionate about new technologies and Neurodiversity. Israel spoke to St Mary's about his experience in Higher Education as a Neurodiverse Autistic.

Alex Brooker: Disability and Me

Documentary by comedian and TV presenter Alex Brooker. Alex examines his disability to acknowledge for the first time how much it has an impact on who he is.

Check back to this page later to see what we are up to.

International Day of People with Disabilities - 3rd December 2021.

Nothing about us without us!

The International Day of People with Disabilities (IDPWD) is a United Nations-led day of recognition, which takes place every year on 3 December.

IDPWD was founded in 1992 to celebrate people living with disabilities across the world.  It promotes the rights of people with disabilities in all areas of society. It aims to increase the awareness and wellbeing of disabled people in all aspects of their life.

There are a number of initiatives underway at St Mary’s to support people with disabilities, you can read about these below.

Before you do that, please do watch this lovely, inspiring video that highlights ‘Things People With Disabilities Wish You Knew’. It shares some great advice about interacting with people who have disabilities and how we should not only normalise disability but celebrate it!

Disability Staff Network

St Mary’s has a Disability Network, which is made up of a number of staff who want to improve the experience of disabled staff at the University. Do take a look at our page to find out more information about the network aims. If you are interested in joining, please contact

The network recently designed a survey to better understand the needs of staff with disabilities/supporting somebody with a disability. Feedback from the survey will be used to improve the experience of this group.

Disability Confident and Disability Inclusion

In November 2020, colleagues from Employability, Student Services, and HR, came together to initiate a membership for St Mary’s with the UK government’s Disability Confident scheme. St Mary’s is currently at Level 1: Disability Confident Committed and has made the some commitments, including:

  • inclusive and accessible recruitment
  • communicating vacancies
  • offering an interview to disabled people
  • providing reasonable adjustments
  • supporting existing employees.

Over the past year, colleagues involved in St Mary’s Disability Confident Working Group have begun progressing on these commitments – namely in implementing a policy of offering an interview to all candidates who disclose they have a disability and meet the minimum job requirements. The Working Group has also engaged in several consultative and collaborative work sessions with the Disability Staff Network, and has recently begun recruiting members of the Network to join the Working Group.

For the remainder of this academic year, the working group is focusing on progressing our commitments.

  • Inclusive and accessible recruitment - embedding an inclusive hiring checklist/training for all hiring managers to help facilitate inclusivity and accessibility at all stages of the recruitment cycle.
  • Communicating vacancies - posting job vacancies via Evenbreak – an organisation dedicated to connecting inclusive employers and disabled applicants.
  • Offering an interview to disabled people - reminding all hiring managers of this practice.
  • Providing reasonable adjustments - embedding guidance for hiring managers and line managers into all new manager training.
  • Supporting existing employees - promoting the Sunflower Scheme and working with the Staff Disability Network to better understand support needed for existing employees.

If you are interested in learning more or joining the Disability Confident Working Group, please email

Sunflower Scheme

Some disabilities, like mental health disorders, chronic pain and fatigue, are invisible – but that does not make them any less devastating to someone’s quality of life.

St Mary’s participates in the Sunflower Scheme. This was launched by our Disability Staff Network, SMSU, Widening Participation, and Student Services.

Staff and students who would like to find out more information about the Sunflower Scheme at St Mary’s may do so by accessing our Sunflower Scheme Moodle page.

Further information and resources.