New network champions accessibility-related support

“I hope the network will serve as a resource for colleagues, as well as a catalyst for positive and inclusive policy, process and culture change.”

Leeds Accessibility Staff Network co-chairs Kirstine McDermid, Phillip Ross and Paul Steenson

New network champions accessibility-related issues. December 2023

Kirstine McDermid, Phillip Ross and Paul Steenson – co-chairs of the newly launched Leeds Accessibility Staff Network (LASN) – were elected last month to champion accessibility-related support for University colleagues to help improve our working environment and togetherness. 

LASN aims to provide a platform for collaboration between members and the University, promote awareness of issues affecting disabled, neurodiverse, chronically ill people and those with ongoing health conditions, and campaign for disability equity. It also promotes opportunities for sharing advice and support. 

Formed following the merger of several smaller staff networks, LASN is committed to raising collective issues, as well as dismantling institutional ableism and barriers in order to support members’ inclusion, equity and wellbeing, together with their professional and personal growth.

Operating mainly via MS Teams through monthly network meetings and support sessions, LASN is a network of focused sub-groups, including:

  • chronic pain and fatigue
  • digestive conditions
  • mental health
  • mobility
  • neurodiversity
  • reproductive conditions; and
  • sensory impairments.

Kirstine works for the Library Service as a Research Support Adviser, and was recently appointed co-chair of the Library Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Cultural Shift Group. She’s neurodivergent and has hemiparesis.

Kirstine said: “I hope my work with the LASN will help create a more welcoming, inclusive, caring and equitable workplace for people with disabilities, mental health conditions, chronic illnesses, sensory needs and neurodiversity.”

Phillip works as a Project Officer in the Student Education Service and is passionate about EDI issues, having co-chaired staff networks during the past four years. 

He said: “I hope the network will serve as a resource for colleagues, as well as a catalyst for positive and inclusive policy, process and culture change.”

Paul Steenson is a Lecturer in Electronic and Electrical Engineering. Until recently, he was a University and College Union (UCU) committee member, where he had a broader perspective and involvement with EDI and accessibility issues at the University. He serves as a Trade Union departmental representative, a school EDI and health and safety representative and a UCU caseworker. 

Paul has lived experience of dyslexia, chronic pain and fatigue, which helps inform his approach and commitment to LASN and a number of its sub networks.

He said: “Through my accessibility network activities, I aim to help enhance our working environment and togetherness, and to promote opportunities for sharing of advice and support, champion collective issues and to help contribute to better institutional support and understanding.”

Complete the Joining and Subgroup Request Form on the LASN page to register and for further information. Members can sign up to as many or as few subgroups as they wish and can also request the creation of additional groups.

Further information

Want to know more about working in disability support? Interested to hear about navigating the world as a disabled person? Join Disability Services for its series of events during UK Disability History Month.

Posted in: