The Disability Staff Network (DSN) at The University of Manchester is marking International Day of Persons with Disabilities 2017 by encouraging staff and students to wear purple. It is also lighting up lecture theatres in purple and raising awareness of disability equality across campus.

The DSN chose purple as the ideal way to recognise the importance of disability equality as purple is identified as the new symbol for people with disabilities, with the spending power of disabled people often referred to as the ‘purple pound’.

“The International Day of Persons with Disabilities is an important day as it enables us to raise awareness of the positive impact disabled people make to our communities and economies. It also highlights the barriers that many disabled people still face in society. By making an impact around this day, this year – and in future years – we can help ensure that awareness of disability equality grows,” says Charlene Linton, DSN Co-Chair at The University of Manchester.

The DSN is supported by the University and its cultural assets, the Whitworth and Manchester Museum to mark International Day of Persons with Disabilities, which is now in its 25th year.

Activities will begin on Sunday 3 December, the actual International Day of Persons with Disabilities with the Whitworth opening up early from 09:00 to 10:00 for the first time to invite visitors with disabilities such as anxiety and autism to come to the gallery before it opens to the general public. The aim of the early opening is to ensure visitors with autism and other needs, along with their families and carers can view the gallery’s collections at their leisure. Gallery staff will also be available to discuss art and disability.

In the following days, a campaign will be rolled out across the University campus including a marketing and social media campaign using the #purplelightup hashtag. On Monday 4 December the DSN is encouraging all University staff and students to wear purple to mark the day. Lecture theatres will also be lit up in purple to help raise awareness.

Manchester Museum will end the week by opening up early on Saturday 9 December from 09:15 to 10:30 for children with autism and other needs, so that they can come and easily visit with their families and carers. Activities will take place before the Museum opens to the general public and there will also be a quiet room available. There will also be a short ‘pop-up’ performance by the University’s Music Society. The quintet of musicians will play some fun, nature-themed music in a relaxed setting.