Dr Gary McGladdery has worked in Disability since 2002 first employed in the community and voluntary sector before moving to the position of Disability Officer at Queen’s University, Belfast in 2006 . After nine years in the role he moved on to manage the service briefly before taking up disability service management roles at Ulster University and the University of Ulster before moving to the position of Head of Disability and Inclusion Support Services at Nottingham Trent University. During that time Gary had two periods as an appointee to the Non-departmental Public Body, Equality 2025 which was an advisory body to the UK Government on Disability Equality. It was in this role, he was recognised for his part in successfully lobbying the then Work and Pensions Minister for changes to the Access to Work Scheme which allowed students on elective paid placements to access the scheme where previously they were neither able to access DSA or Access to Work funding putting them at a clear disadvantage to other students. He sees this as his biggest achievement and the one that he feels has made a significant difference to many students.
This points to one of his passions in the roles he has had during his career where there has always been his desire to support disabled students to access employment opportunities at every opportunity, developing working partnerships with placement teams and employability services at every institution he has worked at to help remove any barriers to getting that important work experience – something he wasn’t able to access in his time at University and did limit early career opportunities. In recent years he has increasingly focused on working with academic staff to help make the learning and assessment experience a more inclusive one. His approach has been to embed specific adjustments in University policy and practice that not only support disabled students, but also international students, mature students etc. Gary is also able to reflect on his (largely positive) experience as a disabled student in the late 1990s and early noughties and often uses that experience to influence and promote positive change where possible.
Its not the conventional route to where he works today as Gary’s qualifications include a BA Hons in Peace and Conflict Studies, a Masters in Ethnic Conflict and a PhD in Irish History and Politics which was published in 2006 by Irish Academic Press. These will give a clue to his earlier engagement with academia which resulted in a number of publications and an ongoing interest in current affairs and particularly those that relate to Irish History and Politics.
Gary is a member of the Chartered Management Institute and is also spending some time in 2022 at Transforming Access and Student Outcomes. He is a member of a themed working group on Mental Health and Disability, The group is an advisory body for TASO that provides guidance and advice on decisions affecting the centre’s research programme.