Embracing the directive “Nothing about us, without us,” from disability justice scholar and activist James I. Charlton, The University of New Mexico Division for Equity and Inclusion (DEI) is seeking input from UNM faculty with disabilities to learn more about their experiences at UNM, as well as to identify strategies and tactics to improve those experiences. Faculty are encouraged to complete the survey by Oct. 1, 2022.

Disability is an identity category, similar to race, gender, and sexuality. The survey seeks to learn not only about individual faculty experiences but also the range of disabilities at UNM. By completing the survey, participants help DEI better understand the diversity of disability of faculty, including:

  • cognitive disabilities (e.g., dyslexia),
  • emotional disabilities (e.g., anxiety disorder),
  • mental disabilities (e.g., depression),
  • physical disabilities (e.g., wheelchair use),
  • sensorial disabilities (e.g., Deafness), and
  • chronic health disabilities (e.g., Crohn’s disease), as well as
  • combinations of the above (e.g., traumatic brain injury).

The survey was developed by Principal Investigator Marissa Greenberg, associate professor of English and a DEI Faculty Leadership Fellow, who spent nearly a year working on the survey with DEI and other disability advocates.

“The survey is an important learning tool in reaching out to, and learning from, our faculty with disabilities,” said Greenberg. “We want to know what institutional factors might be shaping faculty perceptions about disability, or why faculty who may not publicly identify as disabled choose not to disclose their status.”

This is the first time such a survey has been administered at The University of New Mexico, and Greenberg emphasized its value in gathering data and starting meaningful discussions with faculty with disabilities. “It will take time to have the conversations that will lead to changes in our academic culture,” Greenberg said. “This data is a start in making the changes necessary to attract and keep the best faculty, as well as to enroll, retain, and graduate really talented students who may not have felt seen or heard or understood, but need to know they have faculty who share their needs and their gifts.”

While the survey will contain traditional standardized questions, Greenberg is even more interested in the qualitative sections of the survey, which provide plenty of space for survey participants to share their stories and experiences. “We want stories not only about faculty needs, but also the particular perspectives they bring to their work as teachers and scholars that are unique to them because they are disabled,” she said. The survey even provides opportunities to upload files, because sometimes, as Greenberg points out, “the best way to express one’s self may not be through written words, but through drawings or photos.”

Greenberg stressed that the survey is structured to protect the identities of participants, and that data will be aggregated. Ultimately, she says, the survey is about inclusion and acceptance. “We want our faculty to know that if they are disabled, they are not alone on our campus.”

This project is being conducted by The University of New Mexico Division for Equity and Inclusion. For more information, visit Faculty with Disabilities survey, email diverse@unm.edu, or call 505-277-5427.