Disability Advocacy Team

Even though 1 in 5 Americans suffers from some form of a disability, they make up only about 1% of a graduating PhD class. In addition, while about 20% of disabled undergraduates get a degree in the sciences, only 6.8% continue to get a PhD. Seemingly insignificant things limit students from pursuing higher education: they are sidelined in undergraduate labs, discriminated against in job opportunities, and discouraged from attempting easily accommodated tasks.

Therefore, GRIT has started three initiatives to counteract the general mindset people have about the disabled community. We provide training and open discussion opportunities to challenge the way people think about the disabled community. Additionally, we are establishing a mentoring network for undergraduates with disabilities. Here, students are paired individually with current graduate students, providing the support and encouragement lacking for many undergraduates with disabilities. This allows us to better learn about and accommodate the societal obstacles these students face in STEM. This information is being incorporated into a formalized handbook for professors, detailing out the accommodations necessary and polite to provide for a variety of common disabilities. The handbook allows for an easy resource guide for educators to understand how they can reach their entire student population.

Disability relates to blindness, deafness, severe vision or hearing impairment, substantial limitation of mobility, or any other physical, mental, or emotional condition that lasts 6 months or more.


Inclusion Statement

We encourage anyone and everyone to get involved with our team, regardless of whether you identify as part of the disability community or not.

Team Leads

Please feel free to contact the current team leads for more information:

  • Wanqiang Liu (she/her)- wanqiangl@uchicago.edu
  • Natalia Nottingham (she/her)- nottingham@uchicago.edu

Recurring Events

Mental Health Check-Ins: we host quarterly mental health check-ins where students can learn about the mental health resources offered at UChicago’s and get support from one another

Trivia Nights: we host monthly trivia nights as a mental health break from the stresses of grad school

Disability Workshops: we host quarterly workshops on the different facets of disability advocacy

How to be a good ally

Please see the following presentation and handout for more information:

How to Advocate for and Include People with Disabilities – a narrated GRIT presentation

Ally Skills Handout


Creating Accessible and Inclusive Meetings and Events 

Advocating from Positions of Power