On Wednesday 6th December, staff and students from the Brunel Law School, and the wider College of Business, Arts and Social Sciences, gathered to raise awareness for the International Day of Disabled Persons.
The event hosted a fantastic panel of speakers, including:
Pauline Melham, Brunel's Disability Adviser
Sean Cullen, Disability Officer for Brunel Students Union, and Brunel alumnus
Dr Andreas Dimopoulos, expert in disability law, Brunel Law School
Fintan Clear, Brunel Business School, part of the university staff networking group 'Access & Disability'
Michael Sharkey, London 2012 Paralympian and paediatric physiotherapist
Dr Jurgita Malinauskaite, CBASS Associate Dean for Equality and Diversity
First year Law student Ashwathi Soman was the inspiration behind the event, and she set the tone by delivering a touching speech. Ashwathi stated "I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become. My hope fuels my determination to overcome any difficulty".
The panel members raised many sensitive issues, including discrimination against disabled people and negative social responses. Dr Dimopoulos of the Brunel Law School gave a talk on the current legislation on disability, and social negative responses which are the main challenge for people with disabilities. He indicated that "it's negative social prejudice that turns a medical condition into a disability [..] therefore, we must change social prejudice and accept persons with biological variation".
If you are interested in pursuing further initiatives in this area, please contact Dr Jurgita Malinauskaite.