Vice-Chancellor appointed disability and access ambassador
University of Wolverhampton Vice-Chancellor, Professor Geoff Layer, has been appointed as one of twelve new disability and access ambassadors by the Government’s Cabinet Office Disability Unit.
The Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work, Justin Tomlinson, announced the appointments at the same time as the Government launched its new National Disability Strategy. The new roles will help to ensure that businesses are doing all they can to support their disabled customers and employees.
The Ambassador roles are voluntary posts, undertaken for a maximum of three years and supported by the Cabinet Office Disability Unit. They have been appointed as industry leaders who help to drive improvements in the accessibility and quality of services and facilities in their sector for disabled people, as consumers and employees.
Geoff Layer, Vice-Chancellor at the University, said: “I am delighted to have been appointed as the Disability and Access Ambassador for the universities sector.
“Without a doubt, there are improvements in the sector that need to be made, especially in light of the pandemic where support for disabled students and staff became more important than ever.
“We need to make sure that our disabled students have time, information and guidance in order to make the right decision for them, as well as access to the support they need and to have it all in place before they start their studies. We must also ensure that disabled staff are supported to carry out their roles through an inclusive and equitable approach.
“I am extremely proud to have been selected to help drive positive change to enhance the disabled student journey into higher education and to ensure that the needs of disabled staff are at the forefront of any organisational development.”
Justin Tomlinson MP said: “I am very excited to welcome this incredible, impressive group of people as new Disability and Access Ambassadors. They will help support the existing team with our programme to increase access for disabled people across a wide range of private sector industries, and I am really looking forward to working with them.”
The current Ambassadors have been helping industry and the Government in their response to the Covid-19 crisis and supporting work to develop the National Disability Strategy.
The twelve posts include four new sectors which have been added to the existing programme. These additional posts will work with the energy industry, hospitality (pubs and restaurants), private housing and universities. The new appointments also cover airports, arts and culture, banking, buses, creative industries, insurance, rail travel, and the retail sector, whose posts all became vacant at the end of previous Ambassadors’ tenure. They will join colleagues already representing advertising (brand and design), the built environment, countryside and heritage, technology and web design.
Professor Geoff Layer OBE – Vice Chancellor, University of Wolverhampton and Chair of the Disabled Students’ Commission
Geoff has been Vice Chancellor at the University of Wolverhampton since 2011. He is Chair of the Disabled Students’ Commission, Chair of the Student Loans Company Stakeholder Forum, and Chair of Advance Higher Education’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee (the lead UK higher education body on Equality, Diversity and Inclusion).
Geoff is also Director of the Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership, Vice-President of the Black Country Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and Chair of Universities West Midlands. While at Sheffield Hallam University, Geoff established its first Disabled Student Support Service.
Geoff was previously Director of Action on Access for the Higher Education Funding Council for England and National Coordinating Team for Widening Participation, and Director of the Equality Challenge Unit. As Chair of the Disabled Student Sector Leadership Group, Geoff produced the first guidance on inclusive learning for the sector.
Geoff was awarded an OBE for services to Higher Education in 2003.
The Government has published its National Disability Strategy today.
The strategy aims to transform the lives of disabled people across the UK, tackling the barriers that prevent many disabled people from fully benefiting from, and contributing to, every aspect of our society.
The National Disability Strategy is focused on the priorities that disabled people have highlighted and includes the widest-ranging set of practical actions to improve the lives of disabled people. Its focus ranges across public services, housing, transport, education, leisure, shopping, employment, and rights and perceptions.
Access the National Disability Strategy in Large Print, Easy Read, braille and British Sign Language here.
Read the National Disability Strategy
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