Deaf geographies, and other worlds.

Disabled leaders in HE survey

I wouldn’t normally act as a salesman for this kind of effort. Here though, the group concerned are the “Leadership Foundation” who I know to actually be quite good when it comes to making things visible to government, and the survey speaks specifically to a subject that has been raised very recently by Deaf academics, and others involved in Deaf-related research.

If you feel that you can supply evidence, then I’d recommend this to you… if we can flood the LF with information about Deaf academics, then there’s a chance that this might cause a ripple, which could have some impact.

The mail was as follows:

— mail begins —

Please respond by the 30th August.

This email is aimed at  you if you identify as a disabled person and  would describe  yourself as a leader-or someone  aspiring  to be a leader. Please read on if this applies to you, or forward this email (with the attachment) to  someone  you know who may be interested in responding.

These questions in this survey are aimed at disabled leaders or aspiring leaders in UK  higher education (HE) and beyond.  The Leadership Foundation for HE have commissioned me to write an essay about the experience of disabled leaders in the sector with a view to developing better practice. (Views of people who identify as aspiring or frustrated would-be leaders, and leaders from other sectors and countries, are also welcome for the different perspectives they may offer). Based on the principle ‘nothing about us without us’ I am working with other disabled people to produce an evidence based response which includes useful practical recommendations. You may contribute anonymously, or may choose to respond as yourself. It is not necessary to decide whether you want to be anonymous or not at this stage as all responses will be checked with participants before they are published in any form. The process has been piloted by a steering group of disabled people and has received ethical approval from the NADP Ethics Committee and Chair. The questions which follow can form the basis of an email response or a structured interview and you may answer any or all of them, and add further comments which you deem relevant. Broad themes will be drawn out for the final paper and no persons will be identifiable unless they choose to be quoted directly as themselves. Institutions will also be anonymous.  I can be contacted via email at martinn4@lsbu.ac.uk if you require clarification or have useful ideas to share. As a reasonable adjustment for me, please always use the subject header ‘disabled leaders’. Thank you for your time.

The survey is in Word format, and can be downloaded from the following link:

Disabled Leaders – Survey Questions with consent form

All contact for this survey should be sent to:

Dr. Nicola Martin. PhD
Principal Lecturer
Head of Research and Postgraduate Courses
Department of Education
London Southbank University
Room V206
K2 Building
103 Borough Rd

— mail ends —

4 comments on “Disabled leaders in HE survey

  1. deafmuse
    August 1, 2014

    With charity running care and support systems and, speaking for us, the leaders are probably all paid up staff of these areas,the others just get handouts to keep them docile, their rewards are in heaven,the real money goes elsewhere.

  2. Mike Gulliver
    August 1, 2014

    Am I sensing some cynicism about the ‘leaders’ 😉

    I’m not able to comment on how valid those leaders are, what with that being something that the community needs to address and all…

    … but I will say that if those leaders weren’t in place, then who would be leaders for disabled communities within academia?

    … and that those who recently got made redundant from Bristol University when it shut down the Centre for Deaf Studies didn’t feel very ‘paid up’.

    Is it Dai O’Brien and Steve Emery, in their recent paper, who talk about Deaf academics facing a glass ceiling? And lacking the mobility that hearing academics do to move out of harms way?

    I’ve no problem with challenging leaders who shouldn’t be there, or don’t do a good job. But if challenging is all we do then how do policy makers get to know what’s happening so that things improve?

    Why not write to Nicola and tell her what you think?

  3. TigerDeafie
    August 1, 2014

    Thanks for this Mike, I agree with DeafMuse. What we tried to convey in the article you mention is that if we just replace Deaf academics with hearing ones there is a risk we simply replicate the power that is academia. It’s already happening as I get a sense that our numbers grow and we write about our relationship with the community and the research we undertake as if it’s a given it benefits the community. As people in positions of power we have a responsibility to work and look at ways of ensuring that the money we get for research projects is genuinely ‘on, for and with’ the community, and not just to gain prestige, a comfortable career and a nice wage for ourselves. It’s not easy to do this when we work within structures that appear to be designed to entrap up to the status quo (where what we do as *individuals* is the key to getting research funding etc). That’s why Nicola Nunn and Dai O’Brien’s work is so important, and we are trying to take as our lead Kaupapa Māori research principles. But we really have to start that process now while we are in our early stages. I’m not suggesting we simply replicate those principles but we can learn from them and devise ones that are more in line with Deaf cultural ethos. To do that we have to somehow ensure not only that it’s ‘the community’ that leads (we can discuss what ‘the community’ is), but that those involved get credit too: e.g. the names of those involved can be credited alongside ours, just as an example. Gregor Wolbring is a fine example of that, crediting his student researchers every step of the way. There’s also the danger of working in this way and getting prestige for doing so; we’ll have to run ‘checks’ on our work to ensure this doesn’t happen. It won’t happen in a month or a year. I want to start doing that myself, I’m currently unemployed (and not in the UK as you know) though I’m still working on academic related work. I don’t criticize ‘hearing’ academics because of being hearing, but because this hasn’t been addressed since the growth of Sign Language and Deaf Studies since the 60’s onwards – because too many academics have taken it as a given that their research is automatically in the communities interests – that’s not a criticism of ‘hearing people’ and it also recognizes that some really valuable work has been down within the ivory towers (stokoe, brennan, lane and skutnabb-kangas work for example stand out). Change starts now with ourselves, and it’s important to be open to that critique.

    • Mike Gulliver
      August 1, 2014

      Hi Steve,

      And… right, if I understand you, then the original comment wasn’t a cynical shot at (perhaps self-appointed) leaders of the community, but rather a critique of leadership per se?

      In which case, I have to apologise to DeafMuse for misunderstanding.

      But if that’s the case, then isn’t that a valid thing to feed back on the survey; that even the concept of ‘leaders’ is contra to the Deaf vision for research for and with the community?

      If one of the things that ‘holds back’ leaders of the Deaf community is that they are seen as leaders, when they should be seen as those who can facilitate the way for the community to be seen and heard, involved and participate etc. in the academic work… that they are not ‘leaders’ but ‘representatives’ or ‘spokespeople’ or just ‘members’… and that the obstacles that they face come (in part) from the expectation that they will ‘lead’ in a way that is totally anathema to the way that the Deaf community view empowerment… then isn’t that something that’s worth telling the “Leadership” Foundation?

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This entry was posted on August 1, 2014 by in Musings.
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