Exeter researchers contribute to parliamentary report on invisible disabilities
Researchers from the University of Exeter have contributed to a parliamentary briefing concerning the challenges which face those with invisible disabilities in education and work, such as a mental health condition or cognitive impairment.
University researchers Dr Daniel Derbyshire and Kirsten Whiting from the European Centre for Environment and Human Health – a unit of the University’s Medical School – were among the external investigators involved in the investigation. The parliamentary report into Invisible Disabilities in Education and Employment published has since been published by the Parliamentary Office for Science and Technology.
According to a university press release, the report has found that those with invisible disabilities rarely disclose this information to their place of work or education for fear of being stigmatised. They then are rarely able to gain access to services to help support them with these disabilities.
The report suggests the best way to counter this is to remove societal barriers to allow people with invisible disabilities to engage more fully in work or academia. This includes creating training and mentoring schemes and adding online and physical spaces which consider societal barriers. Other suggestions include encouraging flexible working hours and arrangements and the adoption of “adjustment passports” to ensure that those with invisible disabilities need only disclose them once.
Dr Daniel Derbyshire and Kirsten Whiting highlighted the work of the Inclusivity Project, with whom the European Centre for Environment and Human Health work with very closely. The Inclusivity Project is a project dedicated to inclusion and support in the workplace throughout Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.
In response to the publication of the report, Dr Derbyshire said: “We are proud to have contributed to this important report, which we hope will help increase awareness, inclusion and support of people living with invisible disabilities in education and the workplace.”
We hope [our work will help] increase awareness, inclusion and support of people living with invisible disabilities in education and the workplace.Dr Daniel Derbyshire
The Inclusivity Project is a partnership between the University of Exeter Medical School, which leads the research element of the project, and other organisations such as disAbility Cornwall, Age UK Cornwall and the LEP. They are also funded by the South West Academic Health Science Network and the European Regional Development Fund.
The Inclusivity Project has also given other recommendations on how to create more inclusive work environments, most notably on unconscious bias in the workplace against those with disabilities. They have since suggested more structured and effective unconscious bias training to combat this.